The CLSA is appalled at the announcement made today that the Litigators fee is to be cut in the largest and most serious cases by up to 40%. This is after a consultation in which 97% of respondents raised their grave concerns regarding the viability and likely adverse effects of such drastic cuts. The majority of the respondents were members of the profession all of whom have a good understanding of the consequences of such an action. Many firms rely on these cases to subsidise poorly paid work that they will now likely refuse to do. Those poorly paid cases often involve the most vulnerable in society.

The CLSA could not make the position any clearer. These cuts are the final nail in the access to justice coffin. The Government does not appear to have learned lessons from the mistakes made in terms of civil legal aid and are now intent on completely removing the rights of ordinary people.

Criminal legal aid practitioners are not charities. They cannot be expected prop up a failing system. Many firms are struggling to stay afloat. All warnings have been given and yet ignored.

As of the 1st December the Government will find that as firms close there are advice deserts left in many areas as criminal firms are forced to close their doors. Many ordinary people will find it impossible to obtain representation in cases which threaten both their liberty and livelihood as firms across the country start to make decisions that accepting such cases is no longer financially viable.

Criminal solicitors are an ageing breed. Statistics prove that in the not too distant future there will be no criminal legal aid solicitors left in some areas. This means defendants going unrepresented and complainants being cross examined in person by those standing accused.

It is a great shame that the government will not heed the warnings about the destruction caused by ideological and unnecessary cuts. The criminal justice system is at rock bottom. Crimes unreported and undetected due to a woefully underfunded police force. Prisoners rioting and the probation service struggling. Add to this advice deserts and an increase in the number of miscarriages of justice. Our legal system is no longer one to be proud of and should not be promoted as such during Brexit negotiations.

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