The recent announcement that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has detailed plans to scrap aspects of the Criminal Legal Aid reforms following uproar and demonstration from thousands of lawyers, has been welcomed by many across the legal sector.
Oliver Nicholas, Criminal Solicitor at PCB Solicitors, explains why this is positive news for the industry, but why professionals are still remaining cautious about other proposals that may still go ahead.
“The announcement earlier this month confirmed that the proposal to implement a tendering process for the right to undertake criminal Legal Aid representation would not go ahead, but alternative changes would be made to achieve the planned cost reductions.
"If the plans had gone ahead, it would have seen a huge number of criminal firms forced to stop legal aid work, with representation from the remaining firms potentially being undertaken by solicitors many miles from the defendant's actual location, and the delays that would follow.
"The idea of tendering for contracts would have massively damaged the criminal justice system and to abandon that proposal shows some common sense and retains some safeguards for the public. It seems the government has finally acknowledged that cost cutting to excess can actually bring more harm than good.
"The U-turn on the truly awful idea of 'justice at the lowest price' is welcomed but only after a lot of effort went in to protecting the rights of the public, which the government should be thinking about anyway.
Everyone is feeling the pinch in the recession but that is not an excuse to damage fundamental rights, so I am pleased to see that the Government has eventually taken on board some of the feedback that has been offered by many professionals.
"However, cautious steps should be taken as discussions will continue on the reforms and further measures are likely to be announced in due course.”
For more information, contact PCB Solicitors on 01743 248148.
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