Government inaction and indecision means time has run out on criminal legal aid funding

The UK government’s inaction and indecision on funding criminal legal aid has delayed any resolution, kicking the issue into the long grass.
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At the end of 2023, we took the government to court over unacceptably low levels of criminal legal aid funding. In January this year, the High Court ruled in our favour, agreeing that evidence from our members showed “the system is slowly coming apart at the seams” and that decision making around funding had been irrational.

We met with the lord chancellor Alex Chalk on 29 April, where he agreed to closely engage with us as we sought to secure a sustainable funding model for the sector.

However, since the judgement, the government has failed to take the issue seriously. Now, no action will be taken on criminal legal aid funding until the next government.

Our president, Nick Emmerson said: “Four months on from our High Court victory, the government’s failure to act quickly on the ruling and the strong evidence submitted by us has meant that time has now run out. The urgent investment needed in criminal legal aid has effectively been kicked into the long grass.”

“Despite the Lord Chancellor’s commitment to accelerate the necessary decisions, which he made in good faith to us, the timetable of a general election has left our members without the money they urgently need for many more months.

“The criminal justice system is on its knees and is in desperate need of funding. With a huge backlog of criminal cases to be heard, criminal defence lawyers are needed more than ever to provide access to justice.

“The next government must provide the investment needed to secure the future of the criminal legal aid firms who have reached crisis point.”
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Read more about our High Court victory on criminal legal aid funding 

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