Defending Access to Justice: Where Next in the Fight for Legal Aid

Download the poster (PDF).

Haldane Student Society of Socialist Lawyers invite all students to a friendly debate to be held on the impact of the legal aid cuts and the future for lawyers committed to social justice.


Michael Goold, Criminal Barrister, Garden Court Chambers; Vice-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers;

Ruth Hayes, Director of Islington Law Centre, Co-Vice Chair of the Law Centres Network and Justice Alliance.

JUSTICE ALLIANCE FILM: There will be a screening of the Justice Alliance film about the impact of the legal aid cuts. Featuring Stephen Fry, Tamsin Greig and Jo Brand.

11 February 2015 at 6.30pm to 8.00pm at Room SG01, Store Street, University of Law – Bloomsbury, Store Street, London.

Students for Legal Aid

The following article first appeared on Magna Carta 800 Years and is reproduced with kind permission of its authors.

From 21 February 2015, Students for Legal Aid are calling on students from across the UK to protest against the Global Law Summit, an event hosted by the Government to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta.


The hypocrisy of commemorating the birth of the rule of law with a networking opportunity for international businessmen – dubbed the ‘Davos of law’ – while at the same time decimating access to justice for ordinary people, cannot pass unchallenged. For that reason, Justice Alliance UK – a coalition of legal organisations, charities, community groups, trade unions and individuals –is planning a series of events to coincide with the Summit:

Read More

Haldane Response to Delivering Civil Justice in an Age of Austerity

The Haldane Society has responded to Justice's consultation on "Delivering Civil Justice in an Age of Austerity".

Whilst we understand that the purpose of the working party’s consultation is to find cheaper ways of delivering justice, we do not agree with the current prevailing economic philosophy that severe cuts in public services need to be made. We continue to argue that legal aid should be expanded, not cut. When the legal aid scheme was first introduced, in 1949, around 80% of the population was financially eligible for legal aid in comparison with less than a third today. We believe that financial eligibility should return to the levels that it was in 1949. The costs of this could be recouped through taxation.

Download the response (pdf).

Read More

Not In Our Name

Please see below a petition - please email Sam Parham at Garden Court Chambers or contact Sam on twitter @sam_parham if you are a barrister practising in criminal law and would like to be added as a signatory.


'Response to the CBA announcement of 27.3.2014-


‘Divide and rule’ between the professions is not applied in our name.

As individuals, we believe in the highest quality representation for our clients and in unity of action between the professions.  It is only through this united stance that we have been able to come this far and unity remains essential to the preservation of this profession and to the protection of justice.

The breaking of unprecedented unity is not in our name.

Cuts, be they deferred, are not in our name.

Cuts heavily weighted upon solicitors rather than barristers are not in our name. The cuts already imposed are devastating and crippling to all.

We also provide support to solicitors and to the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) in their protest action on the 31st March and 1st April 2014.

We further pledge our support to the march from Old Palace Yard, SW1 to the MOJ Headquarters on 1st April from 14:15 (Mr Grayling’s Birthday).

With or Without the CBA, the Fight Continues

The Haldane Society condemns the decision of the CBA, without reference to its members, to purport to suspend the industrial action taken by criminal barristers against the government's attacks on legal aid.  Criminal barristers within the Haldane Society take the view that it is not for the leadership of the CBA to tell our profession whether or not we will take action in solidarity with our comrades in the solicitors profession, and within the civil bar.  If there is to be any suspension of further action, it should be a decision of the members of the profession taken at a general meeting at which all are free to attend, so that the matter can be discussed openly. 

The concessions offered by Grayling are pitiful in comparison to what we stand to gain by remaining united.  Simply delaying the introduction of certain cuts to barristers' fees is insufficient.  We demand the end to all government cuts to legal aid.  This is achievable.  Mere days ago Grayling described the cuts as being written in stone.  Now they are up for negotiation.  Further action will compel him to compromise further.  We can defeat these cuts.  All we need is solidarity.

Ending this struggle merely because some of our fees are secure plays into the hands of those who would call us fat cats.  This struggle has never merely been about our fees.  It is about access to justice.  This is still under threat from the Grayling cuts.  Our job is to serve the communities for whose rights we fight.  This retreat by the CBA is letting the public down.  Our clients' fights for justice don't stop at the criminal bar: their access to justice will be impeded without solicitors to help them through the gateway to justice, and without civil practitioners to obtain remedies for injustices done, and to challenge unlawful government decisions.  To truly win, we must stand firm, in solidarity with comrades throughout the legal profession and beyond. 

The Haldane Society continues to support the action to be taken on 31 March and 1 April by the solicitors profession and probation workers.  We also continue to support any and all action against the cuts, including further withdrawal of labour by barristers.

The fight continues.  If the CBA will not lead it, then someone else will.

"Grayling Must Go: Legal Aid Must Stay"

Thousands of lawyers struck on Friday against the government's devastating cuts to the justice system.

Demonstrations took place in cities across the country against the government's plans to slash funding for criminal cases, reduce the number of people eligible for legal aid, and prevent oversight of government action by restricting judicial review.

Haldane members took a prominent role in organising the demonstrations and strikes.

The Haldane Society is now calling for a protracted campaign of strike days involving the withdrawal of our services from the criminal justice system until the government abandons their plans.

Legal Aid: Why We are Fighting

We hope the following provide some assistance in explaining the effects of the cuts, and why we are fighting them:

  1. Funding cuts to criminal legal aid will put many firms out of business, particularly community-based BME firms.
  2. Contracts for police station and court duty work represent price competitive tendering (PCT) by the back door.
  3. The £37,500 disposable income threshold for legal aid in the Crown Court will lead to many defendants being unrepresented.
  4. The one year residence test will mean that those who suffer injustice at the hands of the state will be unable to seek redress.
  5. The civil merits test means legal aid is no longer available for borderline cases.  These often include points of the greatest public interest.
  6. The judicial review proposals seek to insulate government from being held to account.  Lawyers will not be paid for the initial work done on JRs unless a judge gives permission for the case to continue.  Good cases will not be taken on if lawyers cannot afford the risk of later not being paid for the work undertaken.
  7. There is a real risk that civil legal aid cuts, including the 10% cut in rates in 2011 and recent cuts to barristers’ fees, mean that in the future there will be barely any civil legal aid providers and none who have specialist expertise.
  8. Without legal aid, many people will be dissuaded from pursuing good cases in court.
  9. There will be no equality of arms in court for people deprived of legal aid who bring cases against the government or public authorities.  The government has an open chequebook when it needs a lawyer.
  10. The government’s campaign is based on misrepresentation: of the UK’s spending on justice, on lawyers' levels of pay, and on the public’s views.

Download a printable version to distribute (pdf).
Download a printable version to distribute (docx).