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'The mother still has concerns about the father’s care for the children and many of those concerns are shared by the local authority, so she has not been running a fanciful case... Without legal aid, therefore, the mother, on her own, would be facing two advocates pursuing a case against her. On any basis that cannot be equality of arms…she is the party with the least ability, the greatest vulnerability and she should have had the benefit of legal representation.'Hallam told the hearing: 'If legal aid is being refused to people such as this, I am satisfied that injustices will occur … Mothers in her situation should have proper and full access to the court with the assistance of legal advice.'
'In these circumstances it is unthinkable that the parents should have to face the local authority’s application without proper representation. To require them to do so would be unconscionable; it would be unjust; it would involve a breach of their rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the [European convention on human rights]; it would be a denial of justice. The child is also entitled to a fair trial.'He continued:
'I have accordingly directed that there be a further hearing at which, assuming that the parents still do not have legal aid, I shall decide whether or not their costs are to be funded by one, or some, or all of (listing them in no particular order) the local authority, as the public authority bringing the proceedings, the legal aid fund, on the basis that D’s own interests require an end to the delay.'It will be to 2015 that we will look to see if those with control of the Legal Aid purse strings finally take note of the concerns of those who practice within this field, now joined by the judiciary who are naturally disinclined to wade into such matters; and consent to a much needed review of the current rules.
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