Robbing Peter to pay Paul will penalise entire criminal justice system
Depriving one beleaguered portion of the criminal justice system to fund another could inflict further instability on the under-pressure system, the Law Society of England and Wales warned.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) wants to cut payments to defence solicitors who prepare serious cases for trial, on the grounds of MoJ budgetary constraints, while finding extra money for the advocates who represent those clients in Crown Courts.
Law Society president Joe Egan said: “The MoJ needs to develop a coherent plan for addressing the underfunding crisis across the whole of the defence professions. Increased fees for advocates will be of no use if there are no litigators left to instruct them.”
The government’s announcement comes just three months after further legal aid cuts were imposed on defence solicitors who work on some of the most serious cases.
Joe Egan added: “Litigation and advocacy services in the criminal justice system are both suffering a crisis caused by years of underfunding.
“It is not rational for the MoJ to argue that they have to cut one part of the system because of their own financial pressures, but then find additional money to pay advocates for working on the very same cases. Robbing Peter to pay Paul simply isn’t in the interests of justice.
“Regardless of their funding, advocates depend on litigators undertaking effective case preparation work. This is increasingly impossible with all the cuts that have taken place in recent years, including the most recent cut in December 2017.”
We are calling for a system of remuneration that will ensure the sustainability of the supplier base.
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