At the time of writing, we are still awaiting news about the future of criminal legal aid. We wait with some trepidation. We have to accept that ? for whatever reason ? there is no more money; but we do ask that common sense should be allowed to prevail.
Clearly the deficit is huge; but, while there has been a vast amount of public spending in recent years, our fees have not gone up; so, please, coalition government, on this occasion, do not resort to taking it out on the lawyers. (Daily Mail, please note.)
If you are going to consult, could you listen to the answers? And please could you look closer to home to make savings? You might bear in mind the track record of the Legal Services Commission. For example, there was a vast amount spent setting up the VHCC panel. Despite recommendations from many (including the LCCSA) that these cases should be awarded on an individual basis, oh no, the LSC knew better. And what do we have now? Each case will be contracted on an individual basis. To use a corny lawyer?s term, ?I rest my case?.
The association has set up a sub-committee to respond to any suggestions from the Ministry of Justice. LCCSA representatives are scheduled to meet the MoJ and will report to the sub-committee in due course. I will let the membership know by email when the sub-committee will next meet; any member should feel free to attend.
This issue features an interview with Anthony Edwards, who has played a long and distinguished part in the association in the past. Although some members may not agree with his forthright views, it was felt important to speak to him to obtain his perspective and to see his insight and plans for the future.