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June results:-

May 2016 - Access Law passes audits
On 13th May 2016 Access Law passed their Peer Review of Mental Health Tribunal cases. Positive findings included that the advisor took a proactive approach in the perparation of cases, considering the client's specific needs and taking a tailored approach to each. The files were exceptionally well organised.
This follows on from Access Law passing the Legal Aid Agency Contract Compliance file review audit of primarily family law cases in March 2016

February 2015
Wendy Hewstone published an article in Law Plain and Simple entitled "Breaking the Myth that Legal Aid Has Been Abolished" describing when Legal Aid is available.
"There is a misunderstanding that Legal Aid has been cancelled  since April 2013... For family cases, Legal Aid is still available either for a specific type of case or if you qualify on certain grounds"
Read the full article here

News Archive

January 2015
Wendy Hewstone published an article in LegalVoice entitled "Domestic Violence Re-visited" describing some of the difficulties encountered by victims in obtaining legal representation.
"The latest trick of the Legal Aid Agency is to pull the certificate before the final hearing as the domestic abuse is then more than two years old"
Read the full article here

15th July 2014 - access law passes SQM Audit.
The Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) means that the standard of care and conduct of Legal Aid cases that we deal with is approved by the Legal Aid Agency.

June 2014:  In an article for Wendy Hewstone expressed concern for the clients who are no longer protected following the changes to Legal Aid. 

"I am a legal aid lawyer to the core and am desperately sad that I am not able to help as many clients as I could in the past"

Read the full article here

28th January 2014: Congratulations to Teresa Campone on re-qualifying as a Legal Executive!

30th June 2013:  access law Facebook page launched! Visit our Facebook page here

In June 2013 Wendy Hewstone was reaccredited with Resolution as a specialist in the areas of domestic abuse and private children matters. The accreditation runs for a further five years.

October 2012: Wendy Hewstone comments on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) and its impact on clients suffering from domestic violence as the proposals seem set to make it much more difficult to obtain Legal Aid through what is termed the 'Domestic Violence Gateway':-

"The reforms will be a self fulfilling prophecy as the LSC will observe how few people needed help when it will be the situation that clients will not be able to pay for the proof needed to reach the Gateway criterion or find an advisor who has enough case starts to take the matter on"

Read the full article here

1th August 2012: As of this date access law has been re-accredited under the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Firms qualifying for CQS must undergo strict assessment, compulsory training, self reporting, random audits and annual reviews in order to ensure that clients are able to expect that their conveyancing transactions are conducted to the required standards, including standards of integrity and practice by all personnel, fully explaining the conveyancing process and keeping clients informed of costs and progress.

August 2011: access law passes SQM Audit
On 24th August access law passed the Legal Services Commission Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) Audit with only one outstanding item to be rectified.  All systems were found to be in place and working well.

August 2011: access law receives accreditation under the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). As stated in the Law Society's press release, this scheme is receiving widespread support from both within the professions such as mortgage lenders and insurers and from the general public.

February 2011: Wendy Hewstone comments on the proposed Legal Aid reforms
In Patrick Macfarlane's Total Politics Blog, Wendy Hewstone stated her views on the proposed changes to Legal Aid:-

"There seems to be this idea that in a wonderful new world of Legal Aid, our clients are going to resolve problems themselves - but if that was possible they wouldn't have come to us in the first place"

Read the full article here

access law passes LSC Financial Stewardship Audit

On 28th July 2010 the Legal Services Commission conducted a Financial Stewardship Audit of access law, sampling 20 randomly-selected case files and analysing them to check we had conducted the cases properly, particularly with respect to monies claimed from the LSC for work undertaken.  We passed this audit with no corrective action required.

access law passes Legal Services Commission audit with flying colours!

On 10th December 2009 access law were audited by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) and passed with no remedial action or rectification of any kind required. In his letter to access law, the auditor stated:-

"... I have not asked for any corrective action to be carried out. The audit is clearly excellent and you and your team should be very pleased with the outcome"

Derek Parsons has become an accredited member of the Law Society

Family Law Advanced Panel which signifies his expertise in complex family law cases, particularly matters of child abduction and children cases.

access law passes SRA audit

On 5-6th February 2008 access law was subject to a routine audit by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and passed with just a few minor amendments required (which have already been made).

Wendy Hewstone appointed to the Law Society Access to Justice Committee

In January 2008 Wendy Hewstone was officially appointed to the Law Society Access to Justice Committee

Wendy Hewstone elected to the Law Society Council

In November 2007 Wendy Hewstone was elected to the Law Society Council as the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) representative.

Derek Parsons comments on the McCartney v Mills divorce

In a letter to The Observer newspaper published 11th November 2007, Derek Parsons commented on the very public divorce of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills:-

"...As a divorce lawyer of some 20 years who has dealt with those whom I would describe as 'high profile', the difference between my cases and the McCartney v Mills case is that, in the latter, both parties are seeking to court public opinion. What is no different, and this applies to virtually every divorce case, is that each party feels the other is plotting revenge. The reality is often that the other is actually only thinking of themselves.
... if Heather (Mills) kept a dignified silence then I suspect public opinion would be more sympathetic"

Wendy Hewstone contributes to the debate on the future of Legal Aid

On 19th March 2007 Wendy Hewstone appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live where the proposed changes to Legal Aid were discussed with Caroline Regan, Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission (LSC). Wendy argued that although the LSC wanted to improve quality of service to the Clients, this would not be possible unless adequate funding was made available to allow firms to cover their overheads and expenses.

Picture of Wendy Hewstone on the BBC Politics Show

Wendy Hewstone interviewed on the BBC's Politics Show

On 18th February 2007 Wendy Hewstone was interviewed on the BBC's Politics Show (see also The BBC's Politics Show page). The BBC reported:-

"40% of her (Wendy's) firm's workload is legal aid funded but she thinks they will have to scale back the amount they do. That will mean having to turn people away."
'If it is a domestic violence case we try to go to court the same day with the client to get an injunction. But if we cannot take action immediately the person could be assaulted again'"

Legal Services Commission Contract Audit

On 20th April 2006 we underwent our first Legal Services Commission Contract Audit and passed with flying colours with only one minor problem which was rectified immediately.

Derek Parsons Interviewed on Radio Solent

On 7th March 2006 Derek contributed to a discussion on Radio Solent concerning the Hague Convention regarding a case where a mother had brought her children home to England from Switzerland where they had been brought up and was ordered to return them as she had breached the Convention. As a member of Reunite with many years experience in such cases, Derek was able to provide the legal background to what is a very emotive and controversial issue.

Wendy Hewstone's article in the April 2008 issue of the Legal Aid Review, published by the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group (LAPG) entitled "Shades of Grey" provided information and advice to other Solicitors together with commentary on the LSC's Key Performance Indicators:-

"[outcomes] cannot be judged in such monochrome terms as the LSC seems to require - family cases often have shades of grey"

Wendy Hewstone's article in the June 2007 issue of the Legal Aid Review, published by the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group (LAPG) entitled "Changes on the Horizon" provided an overview of some of the changes to the Legal Aid scheme in relation to Family Law and expressed concern about how these proposals would affect the provision of Legal Aid and create so-called "advice deserts" where in some regions no law firm is available to provide advice:-

"...the proposals do not seem to be complying with the stated aim [of the Legal Services Commission] of ensuring quality justice is available to all and it is likely the issue of 'advice deserts' will continue."

Wendy Hewstone's article entitled "Domestic Violence, Contact and Legal Aid" in the March 2007 Legal Aid Review, published by the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group (LAPG) highlighted concerns about the Courts allowing contact in cases where there have been allegations of violence and in particular the need for specialist lawyers and the problems over provision of Legal Aid:-

"where are these specially trained lawyers going to be found... particularly after October 2007 when the new Legal Aid changes are likely to come in?"

Wendy Hewstone's article in the December 2006 Legal Aid Review, published by the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group (LAPG) was entitled "What wouldn't we do?". It took a humorous look at some of the stranger incidents that have occurred in her 22 years as a Legal Aid lawyer but the underlying message was clear:-

"we are not fat cat lawyers but the fourth emergency service on a par health and educational providers"

"These varied and challenging cases (as described in the article) show that a small firm has been able to help disadvantaged and dispossessed people. It also shows that that each case is very different and that the 'one size fits all' fixed fees approach does not work"

n an article published in the January/February 2006 edition of Delia Venables' Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Gordon Hewstone questioned the usefulness and necessity of Case Management Systems for conveyancing:-

"Any computer-based system is at best only as good as the people operating it. Our conveyancing is always done by a Solicitor - who (and this may come as a bit of a shock to some) can actually remember details about a case without the need of a case management system. We are not dependant on underpaid and overworked clerks inputting data, or on systems which force us along rigid and inflexible flow charts which exclude flexibility, intelligence and common sense or on the whims of monolithic IT companies who want us to bend to their concepts of workflow."

Read the full article here

Wendy Hewstone contributed to an article on Domestic Violence published in The Law Society Gazette which included the following:-

"We need more criminal prosecutions for domestic violence, which despite being as much of an assault as any other, is often treated as a lesser offence. We still have people coming to us who have been told by the police to obtain an injunction, rather than the police conducting an arrest and criminal investigation."

Read the full article here

This page last updated 30 - Jun - 2016

Author: G. L. Hewstone