What is this about?
The Justice Secretary has issued proposals designed to save up to £400 million over ten years by making changes to the legal aid system – including reducing the number of cases eligible for legal aid.
Impact on the profession:
Fees across the board for all family and civil work would be cut by 10 per cent but the impact on barristers doing civil work would be a “42 per cent reduction in income” and for those doing criminal work “a 12 per cent reduction”. Overall, lawyers’ income would be reduced by up to £154 million over four years and the value of their caseloads by up to £275 million.
Who else stands to lose out?
Commentators (see links below) estimate that more than 500,000 people would no longer qualify for legal aid.
Which kinds of work will be affected?
Legal aid would be scrapped for a range of problems including divorce, debt, employment, housing, welfare, immigration, clinical negligence and education. In future, only the most serious cases will be funded by legal aid, which includes those where people’s liberty or life is at risk, where they are at risk of serious physical harm or immediate loss of their home. It will also remain for cases involving asylum, debt and housing where someone faces eviction and if children are liable to be taken into care and domestic violence.
Other changes include…
Solicitors could be struck off for failing to pay the interest they have made on client accounts to the government. The interest would be used to bolster the legal aid fund.
To find out more…..
The Times – 16/11/2010 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/article2809044.ece
The Times – 15/11/2010 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/article2807484.ece
Citizens Advice Bureau – 12/11/2010 http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20101112
Gazette – 18/11/2010 http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/civil-legal-aid-facing-devastation-after-154m-cut
Gazette – 18/11/2010 http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/news-focus-more-uncertainty-ahead-legal-aid-lawyers
Ministry of Justice – 15/11/2010 http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm
Law Society – 16/11/2010 http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/newsandevents/news/view=newsarticle.law?NEWSID=433227