Legal Aid

CLSA delivers 'no' verdict on Carter's strategy

PUBLISHED March 9, 2006

Leading criminal law solicitors this week vowed to say ?no to Carter?, amid concerns that the government troubleshooter?s controversial report on legal aid procurement will destroy the supplier base and erode access to justice.

Voting last week on its response to Lord Carter?s first report, which was released last month and outlined the principles for reforming criminal legal aid, the executive committee of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association (CLSA) passed a resolution that warned the proposals were intended to reduce the supply of community-based criminal lawyers through practices such as competitive tendering.

?The CLSA takes the view that the inherent risks in these proposals threaten access to, and quality of, justice,? it said. ?We therefore reject Lord Carter?s proposals in their entirety and call upon members to write in, sending a clear message to government. That message is ?no to Carter?.?

CLSA chairman Ian Kelcey said: ?Before getting to the important step of considering whether Lord Carter?s proposals are workable, and while we await sight of the finances intended to underpin the ideas, the committee felt that the scheme as a whole was fundamentally flawed.?

He added: ?We do not believe that these changes will in any way enhance the quality of service delivered to the public or improve access to justice. Either the government comes up with proposals that provide a fairer deal for legal aid or the profession will not buy into it ? there will be an impasse between ourselves and the government if it seeks to impose this.?