Still no news on future of legal aid fee reforms
The criminal defence community faces an anxious wait to find out if further cuts to fees will be implemented. The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association is reported as saying the government will not issue its response to consultations on reforming graduated fee schemes for advocates and litigators until after the 8 June general election.
In a statement on its website, the association said: ‘We appreciate that these periods of uncertainty are stressful for members and we will continue to oppose any further cuts to legal aid.’
The Ministry of Justice held a consultation on reforming the fee scheme for advocates, which closed on the 2nd March 2017, and a consultation on reforming the fee scheme for litigators, which closed on the 24th March 2017. The schemes pay criminal defence lawyers legal aid for representing those accused of crimes in the Crown court. The ministry also wants to cap court appointees’ costs at legal aid rates.
Our Head of Criminal Defence Department, Paul Tubb, said “The reforms will see a reduction in payments to lawyers for undertaking work for often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. These reforms follow many years of other legal aid cuts with rates being at the lowest levels since legal aid began. Legal aid work is often challenging and demanding work – the concern is that many lawyers will no longer see this type of work as viable, and innocent people will be convicted of crimes they did not commit as corners will inevitably be cut”.
Mander Cruickshank Solicitors remains committed to providing good quality legal aid services to our clients, and hope that the government will ensure that the system properly ensures access to justice for those that cannot afford to pay for it.