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.

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