Legal Aid

Justice for sale

PUBLISHED September 25, 2013

They were standing in the doorways, in the aisles, sitting squeezed up on all the benches and some even on the floor.

Friends? House can rarely have seen such a packed and intense meeting as this.

On the afternoon of 22 May, CLSA ? with LCCSA, LAPG, the Criminal Bar Association and others ? brought together lawyers from across the UK to express their views about government proposals to reform legal aid.

There were many speakers ? among them, Bill Waddington of the CLSA, Nigel Lithman QC of the CBA, Andrew Slaughter, Shadow Justice Minister, Desmond Hudson of the Law Society and the LCCSA?s tireless Greg Powell.

All those who spoke received rapt attention and many won vigorous applause. There was a standing ovation for Sir Anthony Hooper, retired Court of Appeal judge, who said: "These proposals are fundamentally flawed and must be rejected in whole?. That they might be put in place by way of secondary legislation was, he said, "a complete scandal?. He explained how the conflict of interest, at the heart of these ideas, was "totally contrary to principle? and won the loudest applause of all when, in answer to a question from the floor, he replied: "These proposals will have an ineluctable impact on standards in the profession and the judiciary?. Our high standards were, he said, about to be "thrown away?.

The rally ended with the passing of several resolutions, including a call on government to abandon its plans for PCT, no further cuts to legal aid and a refusal to co-operate with the QASA scheme for advocacy standards.