The profession has been fighting the MoJ's proposals to slash the provision of criminal legal aid for the last four years.
Three years ago the 8.75 % cut proposed in relation to AGFS was withdrawn, whilst a further review was carried out. Notwithstanding this defence solicitors were made the subject of an 8.75 cut in March 2014.
In April 2016 a second 8.75% cut was suspended by the then Lord Chancellor who recognised the fragility of the profession and sought reviews.
The Government now propose reform amounting to huge cuts seven weeks before solicitors are expected to sign new contracts.
The reforms are to be consulted upon on the basis that either the profession finds them acceptable or the second 8.75 % cut will be reinstated .
In real terms this amounts to a 17.5% since 2013 on solicitors fees over a period which has seen a drop in spend and volume .
The MOJ promised a review of the LGFS looking at the inequities within the system . Instead they have presented an ill conceived short term sticking plaster to deal with the recent judgments that have reflected the work that solicitors have to undertake on larger cases.
The notion that s38 cases can be done at legal aid rates is fanciful given the hourly rates available and the intense nature of many of the clients who have not secured representation. Few solicitors will accept such cases in the era of fixed fees and court closures.
The CLSA and LCCSA vociferously oppose the proposals and the need for a cut in any guise.
Zoe Gascoyne, Chair CLSA
Greg Powell, President LCCSA