Litigators’ Graduated Fees Scheme consultation - Law Society response
The Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on Litigators’ Graduated Fees Scheme and Court Appointees, which proposes the following reforms to crown court work:
- Reducing the cap for claimable pages of prosecution evidence (PPE) from 10,000 pages to 6,000 pages.
- Reducing the fees paid for s38 court appointed advocates to legal aid rates.
Our response makes it clear that the case for introducing further cuts to criminal legal aid fees has not been made and that the proposals are a short-sighted ‘quick fix’ solution which will not address any other longer term issues relating to the way litigators are remunerated, nor the problems within the LGFS.
Among our key concerns are:
- Solicitors undertaking this work have not received any rate increase since 1998 and have already absorbed a cut of 8.75% in 2014.
- The impact of the first fee cut of 8.75% has not yet been assessed - either on the sustainability of legal aid firms or on the savings it has brought to the government.
- The relatively small savings that might be obtained from the proposals do not warrant the potential damage they could cause to the sustainability of a very fragile market, and to access to justice for vulnerable people.
- The MoJ’s previous research showed a further cut to crime fees would drive firms out of business, leaving vulnerable people without representation and creating additional work for other agencies. We do not believe there has been any change in circumstances that renders such a cut necessary now.
- The service of large amounts of electronic evidence has increased significantly in recent years. This has inevitably had an impact on the budget that is beyond the control of solicitors.