The London Advocate

Advocate Issue 62

PUBLISHED March 1, 2011

Once again, the LCCSA has been plunged into activity, preparing ? under time pressure ? a response to the green paper on the future of legal aid. Members, too, have taken time from busy practices to point out the pitfalls in the government?s plans. Let us hope that our submissions will be read with open minds.

Inevitably, we have been concentrating on the fate of criminal law practitioners. But we must spare a thought for colleagues in civil legal aid. Should the government?s plans come to fruition, there will be no more funding for a wide swathe of cases and a cut in fees which will force many practices to abandon legal aid altogether. In many family matters, housing and benefit cases, the weakest (in our Big Society) will have no-one to turn to.

Even while contemplating this wreck, we must not be blinkered. This issue of the London Advocate offers an alarming glimpse of life representing those on death row in Pakistan ? a chance to see our situation in some sort of perspective.

We also feature an interview with the senior district judge, which touches on a question at the heart of current discussions about saving time and money in the courts. The Ministry of Justice and the police believe that alleged offenders should ?put their hands up? at the earliest opportunity, with no time wasted on providing information on why he/she is allegedly guilty as charged. But the principle remains: when the state alleges a crime, it must be able to prove it. How can solicitors advise on plea without disclosure of evidence?

For further discussion of many topical points, members are urged to come to the conference on Saturday 12 March: listen to what the Lords Justices Thomas and Gross have to say ? and offer your own point of view. See you there!