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Incentivising disputes: The Role of Public Funding in Private Law Children Cases

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This article sets out the findings of a study of 280 publicly‐funded private law children cases and associated interviews. It illustrates how both the cost and duration of such cases have increased substantially over the past few years and suggests that this may partly be as a consequence of increasing complexity. However, the article also illustrates how the legal aid scheme can act to promote delay and cost inflation within family cases. In particular, it illustrates how legal aid practice is susceptible to supplier‐induced demand, how legal aid remuneration rates can encourage inefficient forms of ‘juniorisation' and how repeat applications to the courts are facilitated by the availability of legal aid. The article also examines the effect of changes which have sought to promote the early resolution of cases. Finally, it suggests that, while reform proposals may go some way towards restructuring incentives to settle cases, the increasing complexity of cases and the centrality of the legal framework in their proposed resolution suggest that the impact of the proposals may be limited.

Keywords: costs; duration; early settlement; juniorisation; legal aid; supplierā€induced demand

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2005

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