Legal Aid

City firms call on Whitehall to scrap legal aid reforms

PUBLISHED November 25, 2006

A group of City law firms has called on the government to scrap its planned reforms to the legal aid system.

Some 28 practices ? including Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith ? have written to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, to warn that many high street solicitors would be unable to afford to take on legal aid work if the proposals are implemented.

They added that although City firms are committed to pro bono initiatives, the government must also continue to ensure access to justice through legal aid.

Michael Smyth, head of public policy at Clifford Chance, said: ?Our pro bono lawyers are increasingly asked to advice on subjects that would once have been state funded. As such, our support for a robust legal aid system is as much empirical as philosophical.?

Desmond Hudson, Law Society chief executive, said firms across the country were united in the fight to convince Whitehall that legal aid cuts would leave thousands of people without representation.

A Department for Constitutional Affairs spokesman said: ?We are working hard to ensure we will have a legal aid system which is fair to the vulnerable, fair to taxpayers, fair to defendants and fair to practitioners.?