Legal aid cuts are putting solicitors under 'powerful economic pressure' to persuade clients to plead guilty, a leading criminal lawyer has warned.
Paul Harris, president of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, told a meeting of over 200 barristers at the weekend that fee rates have reached an 'irreducible minimum'.
Condemning the planned legal aid cuts, which the Ministry of Justice says are required to save £220m a year, Harris said the fees paid for advocacy are a 'disgrace'.
'Each year advocates are expected to do more for less,' he said. 'Going to court for successive hearings for just over £40 is beyond reason,' he said.