The Ministry of Justice has indicated that it is not likely to reconsider its criminal legal aid reforms after the Law Society’s decision to revoke support for the recent proposals.
Following additional analysis of the government’s meetings and proposals alongside officials, Chancery Lane announced this week that the ministry had ‘botched’ its reply to the independent criminal legal aid review.
Dominic Raab, Justice secretary has proclaimed that the government’s package coincides with the review’s central £135m suggestion. Critics including the Society maintain analysis of the consultation document and impact assessment shows it does not.
As well as recounting the government’s words as ‘spin’, the Society suggested criminal defence practitioners to think ‘long and hard’ about whether they want to continue carrying out publicly funded work since it no longer considers the work to be economically feasible.
In a statement this week, a spokesperson for the ministry commented: ‘We have accepted Sir Christopher Bellamy’s recommendation for an uplift in fees and our proposals will deliver an extra £135m a year in criminal legal aid – the biggest increase in a decade.
‘This is alongside our ambitious proposals to ensure professionals are better paid for the work they carry out, boosting pay for lawyers representing suspects in police stations, magistrates’ court and youth court by 15% and funding the training and accreditation of solicitors and solicitor-advocates.’
The ministry stated that it urged the legal sector to engage in its consultation ‘so we can guarantee this uplift will make the sector sustainable for the future as we build back a stronger and fairer society after the pandemic’.