Transforming legal aid ~ a new consultation ~ the fight for fairness is not over.
Following on from the first consultation (here), the Ministry of Justice consulted on modified proposals which may be read HERE. The consultation closes today - 1st November.
Here are some of the responses:
The Bar Council
Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court
Young Legal Aid Lawyers
Northern Circuit of the Bar
Bingham Centre response
Ian Unsworth QC (Northern Circuit) - (posted via Twitter) - 'I regret to say from the outset that I fear that this is not a genuine consultation. There is evidence to support that. The fact and content of Next Steps is highly suggestive that the Ministry has simply ignored the thousands of responses to the original Consultation Document.'
A View from the North
Garden Court North Chambers
Matthew Scott - Barrister Blogger
Public Law Project
Mark George QC - via Criminal Bar Association - (posted via Twitter)
Mr George's submission is very strongly argued:
'I suspect there will be fewer responses to this second “consultation”.
That should not be interpreted as a decline in interest on the part of
the legal profession and certainly not as any indication that the anger
in the profession has diminished. Rather it is likely to be attributable
to the fact that as everyone can see this is not a “consultation” at
all. We have a millionaire Secretary of State who shows not the
slightest interest in the work that a large part of the legal profession
undertakes on behalf of the public. He has failed to engage with the
Bar at all and has taken little or no notice of submissions by the
organisations that reflect the views of high street solicitors. It is
clear to all that Mr Grayling just isn’t interested in a discussion or
debate. He is simply going through the motions of a “consultation
exercise” before going ahead with what he planned all along. He merely
seeks to prove his credentials to his cabinet colleagues as a man who
can deliver the cuts he promised, if necessary in the teeth of sustained
opposition. Small wonder then that many in the profession will think
they have better things to do with their time than waste it in trying to
talk to someone who isn’t interested in listening.'
He concludes by saying:
' .... let it not be said that when this government decided to impose cuts
on legal services that ended up destroying the system there were no
What the MoJ is planning now will lead to the destruction of the
legal aid system and people generally should know that that is what this
government is prepared to do. Many people in this country need access
to justice and they need the assistance of legal aid lawyers to help
them. The result of these cuts will be fewer lawyers available both on
the high street and in chambers. Those who cannot afford to pay will
lose their rights and have their very liberty put in serious jeopardy.
That is a terrible indictment of the current proposals and I urge that
they be dropped.'
With that I entirely agree.