Regional and local support for those representing themselves in court underway in England and Wales

1 Jul 2021 03:50 PM

The Ministry of Justice’s £3.1 million Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant has set up 8 area-based partnerships.

The Legal Support for Litigants in Person (LSLIP) grant is fully underway, funding 11 projects across more than 50 organisations at local, regional and national levels to help people to identify issues as early as possible, to prevent them from getting worse, and to support people where they do need to attend court.

Eight new regional and local partnerships are working together to share knowledge, network, and build expertise, all of which are crucial to identifying emerging needs and meeting them in the most effective way. This has also allowed funded organisations greater flexibility in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This approach helps to build up data on people representing themselves in the courts and inform future policy.

The MOJ has funded 5 local partnerships in Dorset and South Somerset; Derbyshire, Coventry and Birmingham; Lancashire and Greater Manchester; North Yorkshire and Kirklees; and Suffolk, Norfolk and North Essex, alongside three regional partnerships in Devon and Cornwall; the North-East of England; and North and Mid-Wales. Just under £2 million of funding has been awarded to these eight partnerships over two years.

The North and Mid-Wales partnership, which is led by Ynys Môn Citizens Advice, is made up of eight local Citizens Advice branches plus Bangor University Law School. This partnership is delivering two projects. The first is increasing the capacity of caseworkers and expanding the support they can provide across the region for employment, family and community care issues. The second is striking a broader working relationship with the Law School.

These 2 projects are combining to help the partnership increase the availability of comprehensive legal advice for people representing themselves, and also creating a new arm of Bangor Law School’s curriculum that will increase students’ exposure to sought-after experience and add to their employability after graduation.

Justice Minister, Lord Wolfson QC, said:

I am pleased at the considerable progress being made across the Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant and look forward to seeing all the regional and local partnerships continue to provide vital guidance and advice to vulnerable people in their areas.

This collective approach is something to be celebrated and I am delighted at the significant strides being made by the North and Mid-Wales partnership. The leadership being provided by Ynys Môn Citizens Advice, Bangor University and the other seven partners in the area sets a fantastic example of how collaboration across the third sector and beyond can benefit communities.

Chief Executive of Ynys Môn Citizens Advice, Jackie Blackwell, said:

The North/Mid Wales LSLIP Partnership brings Citizens Advice Ynys Môn and seven other local Citizens Advice Bureaus together with Bangor University Law School to deliver additional pro bono services across the region. The programme has afforded us a huge opportunity to increase capacity and access to social welfare law for Litigants in Person through joint partnership work with the private and third sectors.

Additionally, we have increased our service provision through a training programme with Bangor Law School students, providing a virtual law clinic. This enables us to increase access to legal advice for people who need it as well as identifying further gaps in provision. The research and evaluation arm of the partnership, provided by Bangor University Law school and our LSLIP funded staff, means that we are able to show the impact that our work has on our clients and on advice provision in the region.

Interim Chief Executive of the Access to Justice Foundation, Clare Carter said:

The local and regional partnerships formed through the MoJ-funded LSLIP grant have been fundamental in increasing collaboration between neighbouring services to enhance the advice and support available for litigants in person.

We are pleased to see that the number of litigants in person supported through the LSLIP provision has already increased significantly, and we will continue to work closely with the MoJ and our grantees to further develop these important projects so that even more people in England and Wales have access to the legal advice and support they need.