Responding to the Government's announcement, today, on reform of the legal aid system:
Andrew Holroyd, Vice President of the Law Society, says:
"The changes announced by the government today are welcome but they do not go far enough and there is much detail to be assessed. For example limiting the inclusion of travel and waiting within fixed fees to urban areas is a positive step, but the definition of rural/urban will be critical. In the same regard the additional delay and further consultation on civil and family matters is welcome. But fundamentally, a budget that is to be cut from levels that are already not viable will further endanger the supplier base. Practitioner associations and individual solicitors tell us that further erosion in that supplier base may be inevitable. If that is proved to be correct, these reforms may threaten universal access to justice.
"The Lord Chancellor's statement about 'knuckling down' will be seen as a slap in the face for hard-pressed, hard working legal aid solicitors who may feel they are being pushed beyond endurance. We will be working with our members and practitioner associations and other interested parties to provide a more detailed and considered response in the next few days."