Legal Aid

Legal aid cuts threaten to undermine right to fair trials

PUBLISHED November 20, 2006

Sir - Your legal editor rightly highlights the chaos that has now engulfed defendants and their lawyers in the magistrates' courts and the prospect of even greater problems to come as a result of the ill-conceived Carter proposals.

Growth in the criminal legal aid budget has been propelled by the tsunami of legislation ? the Queen's Speech promises more ? and the greater complexity of investigations involving mobiles, CCTV, surveillance and so on. In civil legal aid, there are advice deserts, and advisers are overwhelmed by demand. Access to justice is in real peril.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs select committee is to look at legal aid in December. Let's hope it can take on board and recommend a sensible way forward that will help the Government out of the quagmire into which it and we are sinking.

Greg Powell, President, London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association, London NW6