Letter: Justice denied to the poor

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The Independent Online
Justice denied to the poor

Sir: As legal aid solicitors, we are disturbed by the implications for access to justice caused by the latest huge increases in court fees. These were imposed without notice on 15 January by the Lord Chancellor's Department.

One example is the overnight increase in the issue fee for a divorce from pounds 80 to pounds 150. People on income support are no longer exempt from fees, having to pay the first pounds 20 of each fee. For many of our clients, such as a mother with two young children on income support of pounds 86 a week, this effectively prevents divorce. Is this part of an attempt by the Government to "support" failing marriages?

It appears that access to the courts is no longer regarded as a fundamental element of our democratic society. The Government wants the court service to become "self-funding" within two years. Access to justice - a luxury or a right?

TIM DANIEL

RACHEL KARP

LOUISE McKEON

OLIVER MOORE

Daniel and Harris, Solicitors

London NW6

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