Many readers will probably know that we are avid users of the Freedom of Information Act and our latest foray into the workings of the justice system has thrown up yet more interesting statistics which seem to contradict other statistics.
Last month we asked the Legal Services Commission to tell us how many divorce cases had received legal help and the answer worked out to be that cases under the legal help scheme appeared to account for 74.8% of the total divorces filed in England and Wales using 2009 figures.
However our latest FOI request to the Ministry of Justice asked how many divorce cases were filed where the petitioner had proceeded with court fee exemption/remission and the figures show that 33% of divorce petitions filed in 2010 were exempt from paying all or some of the court fees.
It has been a long time since I dealt with legal aid and I cannot remember whether legal help cases also have to apply for fee exemption, or the fact they are in receipt of legal help automatically exempts them from court fees. In any event 33% of all cases filed in court are people who are on either benefits or low income and that figure I suggest is only going to increase as the economic outlook worsens.