… doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.
The MoJ and Legal Aid Agency have put out a leaflet on Legal aid and “Help for people at risk of losing their home“. The trouble is that it doesn’t mention, anywhere, at all, not even in little small print, that tenants facing possession proceedings can seek face to face advice from a solicitor. Instead, all requests for help are channelled to the LAA phone line.
Now, while mortgage possession cases might have to go via the telephone gateway (due to an entirely arbitrary reclassification of such cases as ‘debt’ matters, just to give the phone line something to do), tenant possession cases can be funded as face to face cases from the get go, with no phone line involvement. Strangely enough, the LAA leaflet doesn’t mention that, while at the same time, the LAA announces that fewer housing matter starts have been used than was expected.
Of course, this dodgy advice leaflet might be an accident. I have asked the MoJ. But answer came there none.
[Given the comments, here and on twitter, can I just make absolutely clear that nothing I said above is intended, or actually does, reflect in any way on the quality of advice provide by the phone advisors, or indeed whether there should be a phone advice service. As for the mandatory ‘debt’ thing, as I said in the comments below, ‘the point about mortgage possession being given ‘mandatory’ telephone gateway status was that the ‘new’ gateway had to have something reserved to it. This was a political and policy decision’. It had nothing to do with whether this work was ‘better’ dealt with by the phone gateway, or about generating work for the gateway – which, I have been assured, had and has no shortage. The point about mandatory status was to lay down the marker that this was the trajectory for all civil legal aid. Now if someone wants to give me an argument about why this would be a good thing, come and have a go.]