Tag Archive | "Shailesh Vara"

Nearly a fifth of all courts and tribunals in England and Wales to close


Eighty-six of 460 courts and tribunal hearing centres will shut as part of “modernisation” plans, HM Courts and Tribunal Service has confirmed. The reforms aim to reduce the £500m annual cost of the courts estate. The government has published a schedule for the closures, with six phases planned between now and September 2017.

Justice minister Shailesh Vara confirmed that, on average, the 86 courts due to be closed were only being used for just over a third of their available hearing time, equivalent to fewer than two days a week. The government has reprieved five courts identified for closure as part of its review of the estate. Read the full story

Posted in Law UpdatesComments (0)

“Access to justice should be considered a fundamental right” – Corbyn


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the government to initiate an immediate review of cuts to civil legal aid.

The coalition government reduced the scope of civil legal aid through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) and has committed to a review of the policy by April 2018.

The reforms reduced spending on civil legal aid by £300m a year, but the National Audit Office last year said the wider costs to the public sector had not been factored in because the Ministry of Justice did not anticipate how people would respond to the changes.

Read the full story

Posted in Civil Law, Legal AidComments (0)

Any chance of compensation?


Following Michael Gove’s announcement that he was abandoning a new contracting regime for criminal legal aid, some criminal defence firms are considering whether to seek compensation from the government.

While welcoming the decision not to go ahead with the introduction of the dual contracting system, shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter told the House of Commons: “This has been an appalling use of taxpayers’ money. It has posed an existential threat to a fundamental part of our legal system, and it has caused uncertainty, failure and distress to thousands of hard-working small businesses throughout the country.” Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Legal aid contracts: what now?


For the past couple of years the Legal Aid Agency has been fighting a fruitless battle with the legal profession over the legal aid contracts system. Right up to the last minute the Agency was stubbornly protesting that the legal actions that finally buried the contract nonsense would be stoutly pursued.

Then Michael Gove pulled the rug from underneath them, leaving the Agency to put out the following sad little statement:

Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Gove doesn’t care either: Next steps for the criminal legal aid market


Yesterday Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Aid, presented a written statement to the House of Commons to confirm next steps for the criminal legal aid market.

He said: “There is a pressing need to ensure our criminal justice system performs more efficiently” and “there is no doubt we still have a generous system compared to other countries. The continuing need to reduce the deficit means that we must make further progress. We must secure greater efficiencies whilst maintaining a high quality service and guaranteeing that everyone accused of a crime has the same access to a legal aid lawyer as they do now.” Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Disraeli was right


MoJ staff have had their knuckles rapped by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA ) for overestimating barristers’ earnings in figures aimed at justifying legal aid cuts. UKSA is an independent body charged with monitoring the integrity of official statistics.

In a letter to Shailesh Vara, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid, the Chair of the UKSA, Sir Andrew Dilnot, accuses the department of overestimating barristers’ average earnings at £84,000 a year. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Defamation Act 2013


New libel laws aimed at giving better protection to people expressing their opinions came into force in England and Wales on New Year’s Day. The Defamation Act 2013 had received royal assent last April.

Trivial libel claims are targeted by the Act, which introduces a new “serious harm threshold” designed to help people understand when claims should be brought and discourage the wasting of court time. Read the full story

Posted in Civil LawComments (0)


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