Who needs experts anyway ?

The recent ruling in the case of JG adds another nail in the coffin for justice in  private children’s law proceedings. It effectively means that even if a rule 16 children’s guardian is appointed, it will still be extremely difficult to instruct experts, as the Legal Aid Agency (formerly the LSC)  will not be under an obligation to pay for those experts unless the instruction is a joint instruction and all parties pay. It is inevitable that the majority of litigants in person who are now no longer entitled to legal aid will not be able to meet the funding of experts, especially those on benefits. So, for instance, should a children’s guardian be of the view that a child psychologist is required to report in an intractable contact dispute, then their solicitor is going to struggle to get funding – prior authority will need to be applied for and a similar ruling by the court as indicated in Re DS  will be required in order to persuade the LAA that it would be “Wednesbury unreasonable” not to foot the bill. Once LASPO properly kicks in in private children’s law, then we should expect a further JR on this point – that is if the court grants permission and the LAA agree to fund it !

Chris McWatters


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