Response to independent review of criminal legal aid – Law Society response
Between March and June 2022, the government held a consultation on its response to the independent review.
- increasing legal aid rates, including for police station work and magistrates’ court fees
- changes to fee structures to better reflect the work required on cases
- setting up an advisory board
- making training-contract grants available for criminal practitioners
The government proposals amount to an increase in remuneration for solicitors of just 9% overall (with a 15% increase only in lower crime).
The current funding proposals are woefully inadequate – 40% below the bare minimum recommended overall.
We believe this will not:
- reverse the damage to our criminal justice system
- persuade young lawyers that they could have a viable career in this sector
- prevent the closure of more criminal legal aid firms, or
- enable the courts backlog to be addressed
“The government’s proposed funding is not enough to maintain a criminal defence profession to uphold justice in this country,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.
What this means for solicitors
This is a make-or-break year for the criminal defence profession.
Many firms will be deciding whether to take up new criminal legal aid contracts in 2022.
If legal aid work remains uneconomic, defence firms will not have the capacity to take on the increased volume of cases needed to clear the courts backlog.
The consultation closed on 7 June 2022.
On 30 June, the government announced an initial increase to criminal legal aid fees, coming into force from September 2022.
The government published its final response on 30 November 2022.