Barristers and the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, have agreed a temporary truce in a dispute that threatened to halt all complex fraud trials.
Nicola Hill, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association, said:
This latest deal between the bar and the MoJ appears to be an exercise in face-saving for the government. It isn't about maintaining high standards of justice in police stations and courts throughout this country. Those essential, 'nuts and bolts' parts of the criminal justice system are floundering in the face of wholesale cuts. Today's backroom deal with the bar excluded solicitors from negotiations yet again and fails to address the silent crisis simmering away in a strained and neglected system.
Mr Grayling shows no respect or understanding of the core workings of the criminal justice system. Whilst holding regular meetings behind closed doors with the bar, he refuses to engage with practising solicitor groups. Solicitors who do publicly funded defence work are the backbone of the justice system. Day in, day out they represent people accused of a crime from police station to magistrates and often crown court. Solicitors' skills, expertise and dedication are essential to ensure maximum efficiency and a just process. But Mr Grayling ignores that.