Tag Archive | "des hudson"

Declining crime rates to cut legal aid bill

The Law Society, the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and the Big Firms Group have clubbed together and commissioned new research into legal aid expenditure forecasts. The research, carried out by Oxford Economics, shows that the Ministry of Justice could stand to make two thirds of its £120m savings being demanded from the work carried out by solicitors and barristers in the criminal legal aid system without implementing the proposed cuts.

Assuming a continuation of the steady decade-long downward trend in crime, the research suggests Legal Aid expenditure could be £84m lower by 2018/19 than it would otherwise have been, without the damaging cuts that are being proposed. The research also maintains that the belated impact of past reforms is still delivering further reductions in legal aid costs, some of which the department may not have taken into account. The projected decrease in spending of £84m could be even higher.

Des Hudson, the Law Society’s chief executive, said: “The expenditure on criminal cases has not risen in two decades and is set to shrink further following more fee cuts. Additional cuts proposed in the latest plans could have a devastating impact on access to justice and many legal aid solicitors have already reached the point of despair.

“We are proposing a better way forward, so that our members may continue to uphold the rule of law and provide access to justice to the public. We will all be poorer if confidence in our criminal justice system falls.”

Carol Storer, director of Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group, said: “This report provides the clearest evidence yet that the cost of legal aid in the police station, magistrates and crown courts is already falling significantly. Indeed, the Legal Aid Agency’s business plan for 2013-14 predicts that spend will be reduced to £1,828m, a reduction of 7.7% from the previous year.”
Nicola Hill, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, said: “What you see clearly with this independent report by reputable economists is that the Government’s numbers just don’t stack up. The Lord Chancellor claims £120m needs to be saved from the criminal legal aid budget. This report shows quite clearly that substantial amounts (two thirds, in fact) could be saved from the criminal defence budget simply by doing nothing at all.”

Bill Waddington, chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, said that “the full impact of the cuts already imposed have yet to work through the system and due to continuing falling volumes the MOJ has no need at all for any cuts,” and Franklin Sinclair of the Big Firms’ Group, said: “there is simply no need for a savage 17.5 per cent cut for the MoJ to achieve its budget target.”

The ‘Guardian’ reports that an MoJ spokesperson said: “We believe the analysis on which the report is based leads to inaccuracies. If we had used this methodology in past years, we would have repeatedly overspent on our litigation legal aid budget.”

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No confidence motion passed at SGM

A motion of no confidence in the senior leadership of the Law Society over the organisation’s policy on criminal legal aid reform passed by a narrow margin on Tuesday. More than 600 solicitors registered their attendance but only 441 cast a vote, with 228 voting in favour of the motion and 213 against.

The petitioners, led by Liverpool solicitor James Parry, oppose the Law Society Council’s policy of direct engagement with the Ministry of Justice on proposed reforms of criminal legal aid. He and his supporters favour a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign of outright opposition that could include direct action.
Read the full story

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Liverpool Roadshow

The Law Society Roadshow rolled into Liverpool on Wednesday when a well attended meeting heard Richard Miller, head of legal aid, explain the current state of play regarding the new proposals on legal aid.

He was at pains to make it clear that, despite rumours to the contrary, the Society had not accepted the proposed package as a whole. In particular they were campaigning strenuously against all the cuts. Read the full story

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Best Value Tendering Part 2

The Law Society claimed a partial victory when, after lobbying hard for a proper pilot and full evaluation of the proposals, the LSC promised that decisions on any roll out will not be taken until full pilots have been evaluated, which will not be before 2013. “ Read the full story

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Legal Aid reform

Introducing proposals for legal aid reform last week, Legal Aid Minister, Willy Bach, said that the UK has one of the best funded legal aid systems in the world. He went on to say that “legal aid practitioners provide a fantastic service and should be paid accordingly; Read the full story

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Unified Contract Agreement – The Reactions

On the 2nd April a joint statement was issued by the Law Society, Legal Services Commission and Ministry of Justice regarding the agreement they reached on the unified contract. This follows the recent Court of Appeal judgement about the civil legal aid contract. Read the full story

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