BAR COUNCIL WARNS OF LEGAL AID CUTS
30 Sep, 2011
Bar Council Chair warns Conservative conference of consequences of Legal Aid cuts
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, the Chairman of the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, will warn of the significant threat posed to access to justice by the Government’s proposed legal aid cuts.
Next Tuesday 4 October, Peter Lodder QC will speak at an event co-hosted by the Bar Council, the Society of Conservative Lawyers, the Prison Reform Trust and the Criminal Justice Alliance, entitled “Can the Coalition deliver a fairer, more efficient and effective justice system?”. He will be joined by the Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly MP, Vicki Helyar-Cardwell, Director of the Criminal Justice Alliance, and Juliet Lyon CBE, Director of the Prison Reform Trust.
Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar, will say: “I repeat here what I have said to your Coalition partners in Birmingham, and in many statements to the press, the public and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum. The Government’s cuts to legal aid, coming on top of successive rounds of cuts under the last Administration, will seriously undermine the efficiency of the justice system. Barristers operate on the front-line to ensure that our justice system works efficiently, effectively and, most importantly, fairly for all involved.
“The next wave of cuts, together with the changes proposed in the Legal Aid Bill, will end up costing the Government more, not less. This is not a case of ‘we are all in this together’. The Government’s own impact assessment is a damning indictment, demonstrating the disproportionate effect that these cuts will have on those most in need of support and the wider social costs of the changes.
“There are other ways to make the savings which the Ministry of Justice is seeking to make. The Bar Council has made a number of alternative suggestions, including unfreezing defendants’ restrained assets to meet the costs of their legal services in criminal cases and introducing compulsory legal insurance for all corporate officers. The Government has ignored or dismissed these suggestions with little or no consideration of their potential efficacy. The changes being proposed are likely to cost the taxpayer more than the savings they are intended to achieve. We urge the Government to think again.”