CLSA press release
Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association
Thursday, 27 February 2014
Government attack on public right to defend themselves.
The impact of the MOJ proposals is a disaster for the public who will find it increasingly difficult to gain access to a local solicitor willing to provide legal aid in the face of a State funded investigation and prosecution.
The impact of an immediate initial cut 8.75% from 20th March without any time to absorb these, or benefit from prior consolidation, will without doubt cause some firms to fail financially. It is difficult to predict how many good firms will be destroyed.
The proposals for duty contracts even at the most optimistic level involving consortia clinging together to survive is likely to result in no more, in informed opinion, than a mere 800 firms with the remaining half of the profession losing their ability to conduct duty work. Own client (only) firms, will mainly die a slow death by financial starvation as they fail to replenish their client base. This will ultimately cause most of these to fail financially with disastrous impact upon the Treasury and the whole profession having to cope with interventions in failed practices. The survivors will have to face a second cut in June 2015 of another 8.75%!
These cuts fly in the face of the evidence provided by experts and seen by the Government which show that many firms are on a financial knife edge now and cannot absorb these cuts on top of the down turn in work caused out of court disposals etc.
Whereas the CLSA welcomes the fact that the MOJ are not introducing a flat police station fee or a standard fee irrespective of plea in the Magistrates Court these are small concessions in the overall context of these catastrophic proposals. The Government has failed to listen and has conducted the usual consultation tick box exercise and the result is the most serious assault upon the ability of the profession to defend the public against the power of the State.
The CLSA will provide further detailed comment soon but in the meantime we imagine all firms will regret the disruption caused by their individual refusal to attend court on 7th whilst they digest the full horror of this proposal for their firms and the people of the country who deserve better than this. Justice on the cheap is no real Justice at all.
Notes to Editors:
The CLSA is an independent organisation representing lawyers in England and Wales. Its members specialise, often exclusively, in criminal defence litigation. Its members are defenders in the large majority, but it has prosecutors and court clerks in its membership.
Chairman: Bill Waddington, CLSA, Suite 2 Level 6, New England House, New England Street, Brighton BN1 4GH. DX 2740 Brighton. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01273 676725. www.clsa.co.uk