Where do you turn if you simply can’t afford the legal fees?

In a recent BBC Essex radio interview, Leonard Gray and the Chelmsford CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) addressed the issue of where to turn if you’ve got a problem that needs to be sorted out in court or by a solicitor but you simply can’t afford the legal fees.

Back in April 2013, the Government cut legal aid for large areas of civil law

John Appleby of Leonard Gray started the interview aired on BBC Essex, by giving an insight in to the impact of this change. “It’s certainly the case that the courts are becoming a lot busier with people who are struggling to deal with these cases themselves, without a solicitor as an advocate or indeed as an emotional buffer, this is causing a problem.”

To compound this problem, the small claims limit has been raised from £5,000 to £10,000

New rules raising the threshold to £10,000 for small claims cases mean that the winning party is rarely able to recover their legal costs. “It’s very easy to see, therefore, how someone with a claim of, let’s say £8000 but with a legal bill of £4000-5000 soon creates a false economy,” adds John Appleby.

Moves are afoot to help people who simply can’t afford a solicitor

Russ Mynott, the Chief Executive of the Chelmsford CAB is leading a new scheme to provide a single point of access for legal advice, with affordable options to suit all budgets.

They have been awarded £350,000 to support the formation of a partnership across Chelmsford consisting of the CAB, Age UK, Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ECDP) and the YMCA.

This partnership will be supported by private solicitor firms including Leonard Gray.

The CAB will assess each case on ‘ability to pay’

Russ Mynott added, “We will look at clients coming in to us but also to the private sector, reviewing their ability to pay, their disposable income. We will refer people on who can afford full law but also intend for private practice firms like Leonard Gray to refer down to us the one’s who can’t afford. The CAB is working with solicitors who are taking a career break for instance who want to maintain their practice certificate and they are coming in working for us to pick up the cases where people can’t afford to pay or can’t afford the full rates of a private solicitor.”

Leonard Gray has devised a range of affordable legal solutions

“We’re very excited to be one of the CAB’s leading partners in this initiative. We’ve recognised that people need legal advice to be more affordable, and available with more options to suit them,” adds John Appleby of Leonard Gray. “We’ve been building a new range of services with very clear pricing, with a number of these options available from today including fixed fee divorce services.”

There is another simple way to cut legal costs

Mediation offers a quicker, cheaper way of resolving disputes than going to court.  Whilst Leonard Gray’s team of mediators has been achieving great results for over 15 years – it is only now becoming a popular alternative to traditional legal services.

  • For disputes around employment, unpaid invoices, building work etc, we achieve successful resolution in less than a day for 90% of cases, with fixed fees starting at just £400 per party.
  • For family law, mediation is conducted over a series of sessions. The mediator helps you to reach agreed solutions about finances and children, which are then formalised afterwards in a court order.

For more information visit www.leonardgraymediation.co.uk 

John is an ADR Group accredited civil, commercial and family mediator. He adopts a practical and focused approach to mediation and uses the benefit of his experience in commercial transactions and disputes to reach a solution.