The London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association
The consultation document from the Ministry of Justice is called Transforming Legal Aid. This is no exaggeration: a transformation is certainly what has been proposed. British justice has been - still is - the envy of the world. Not for much longer.
Price competitive tendering is a model completely at odds with the provision of legal services. It has been tried in New Zealand and it did not work - in a process which was ultimately enormously costly to the government there.
Just one of the proposals - for a defendant no longer to be represented by a lawyer of his or her choice - demonstrates how our democratic and respectful way of working is to be changed into a production line for cheap and and shoddy justice.
And it is all to be brought in at record speed, with a truncated consultation process, no pilot programmes and an astonishingly rushed timetable for implementation.
Should the government's proposals be brought in unchecked, the consequences will be grave - not just for our members but, crucially, for the administration of justice itself. This is not an argument about fat-cat lawyer fees, as it may be spun in the tabloid newspapers, but about access to justice.
If justice is done on the cheap, outcomes will be poor. When the tribunal is not given all the information it needs, it will reach unsatisfactory decisions in many cases. This means that there will be miscarriages of justice - very expensive to correct and deeply damaging for social cohesion and national well-being.
The LCCSA has swung into action. This issue of the Advocate not only carries news of the campaign, it also brings you Andrew Keenan's personal take on where the profession now stands and a contribution on PCT from the Law Society. In addition, there is an interview with a Commander from the Met Police (also under financial pressure at present), not to mention reflections on the tendering process from our members' favourite columnist, Bruce Reid.
The association is already receiving financial contributions and messages of support. Please join the campaign, come to the meeting on 22 May and, above all, respond to the consultation.
Make your voice heard: your business, your career - and the well-being of the country you live in - is at stake.
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