The Ministry of Justice has published its consultation entitled ‘Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a more credible and efficient system’. Unfortunately on first reading it will do nothing short of devastating the provision of legal aid by criminal defence solicitors. Upon second and third reading it makes sobering reading.
The main proposals are:
- NO CLIENT CHOICE. Clients will no longer be able to choose their solicitor. A firm will be allocated for you. This firm could be at the other end of the county. Even if they are poor quality you can not swap. You can only choose your own solicitor if you pay privately
- A maximum of 400 firms nationwide. The number of criminal defence firms will be reduced by at least 75% (from 1600 firms). Some of these are specialist firms in fraud, sexual cases etc who will be lost.
- Some companies bidding may include G4S, Servco, BT Law, Tesco, Eddie Stobart
- Removal of legal aid at the Crown Court for clients with an income over £37,500. (If you have a partner, joint income will be considered).
- Bidding for a contract will be a race to the bottom on price not quality. Cheapest wins. Firms who do the least work will be the only ones who can bid low.
- Firms get paid the same for a guilty plea and a trial meaning that there will be conflicts of interests between the Solicitors advising to plead and the innocent client wanting to run a trial.
We respectfully urge anyone who understands the service we provide to sign the following petition
We at Mortons Solicitors have always been proud of our reputation for providing a quality professional criminal defence service. We have a trusted and established relationship with many clients from all walks of life. Unfortunately these proposals are a clear threat to justice and the rule of law and will undoubtedly lead to miscarriages of justice.