"Equality Of Arms": How Is Legal Representation Made Affordable
Posted on 2nd April 2020
The phrase “equality of arms” is often used in the legal world to describe the right to representation for both parties. The most obvious example is the criminal process where, if you cannot afford to employ your own solicitor, you are entitled to one to represent you, paid for by the state.
Outside the criminal arena, however, some are more equal than others. MG Legal, your Family Solicitor in Lancaster, seeks to explain the reasons and to help you get the upper hand.
What is Equity?
Equity is a sort of equality.
There are certain Maxims in the Law of England and Wales and, generally speaking, they work on the basis of equity: that the system shall be fair. One of the Maxims is that above, “Equity is a sort of equality”, meaning that when two parties wish to resolve an issue, in coming to the Law for resolution, they shall be put on an equal footing to seek that legal resolution.
Where are people not afforded this Equity?
One major source of contention is the Coroner’s Court, where it is incredibly difficult to obtain any sort of Legal Aid funding for a Solicitor for the relatives of the Deceased. An Inquest is, generally, an inquisitorial process, meaning it is not intended to be a Trial, but a fact-finding exercise. However, it is usual for the state to have legal representation at any such Hearings. Coroner’s Hearings are not short affairs and can routinely run into days or weeks.
One particularly galling example was the inquest into the Shoreham Air Show crash, which had eleven victims. The families of the victims were declined an Application for Exceptional funding on the grounds it was not “within scope” and did not represent the "wider public interest”.
Even if Legal Aid is granted it is limited, although it can at least assist the family with writing witness statements and preparing questions. Only in highly exceptional circumstances, will full representation for the Inquest be granted.
How does instructing a solicitor work?
In your everyday life, you are expected to seek out, identify, consult with and pay for your solicitor, usually because the representation or advice you require is not vital, but arises from a choice. Moving house, making a will or bringing a personal injury claim are all something you have a right to do, but is not something that the state believes you should be paid by the taxpayer to do as it is not in the public interest. The same is now true of divorces, aside from specific cases involving domestic violence where it is in the public interest to assist victims in escaping abusive spouses.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Quite likely, the answer is no, although if you are on a very limited income you may be entitled to some assistance. However, the number of Legal Aid Solicitors is reducing, which is understandable as the availability of Legal Aid diminishes. MG Legal, your Family Solicitor Lancaster, does not have a Legal Aid franchise, however, we do make our services as affordable as possible.
You can only look after yourself
With everyday Legal matters, where instructing a solicitor is a matter for the individual, you can only see to your own interests and ensure that you are as well ‘armed’ as you can be. By instructing MG Legal, if your opponent elects to instruct a solicitor, you are on an equal footing (well, not quite, we think we’re better than the next firm) and if they do not, you are on a better footing. You cannot, in any matter, look after your opponent, only yourself.
How do I instruct MG Legal?
MG Legal, your Family Solicitor in Lancaster, deals with a variety of matters including Family & Children matters, Property, Wills, Powers of Attorney & Probate and Personal Injury. We are generally able to offer affordable, fixed fee instructions for all matters, except Personal Injury, where we aim to accept all instructions on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis.
Simple call, email, use our web-contact form or see one of our offices in Lancaster, Garstang or Longridge to speak to one of the team. We will put you in touch with the correct department and they will have the ball rolling the same day, including discussing a competitive fixed fee instruction wherever possible.
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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