Criminal legal aid

Funding increases must go further to secure sustainability of the criminal justice system

Today (30 June), the UK government announced an initial 9% increase to criminal legal aid rates for solicitors will come into force from September this year, with the possibility for further increases as the consultation on criminal legal aid concludes in the autumn.

“Today’s announcement means some of the long fought-for rate rises are locked in and members will begin to benefit from those higher rates. But this must be the foundation for further increases and not the ceiling,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“These first-stage changes are welcome, with some rate increases set to be in place as early as September. The next steps will be to ensure our members see the full 15% rate increase recommended by the independent review of criminal legal aid. We also hope to see the Crown Court scheme reformed.

“In order to secure the sustainability of the profession, to help tackle the huge backlog in our courts and to ensure timely justice for victims and defendants, the government needs to ensure all parts of the criminal justice system are properly funded.

“We welcome the announcement that the government is extending the scope of payment for pre-charge engagement. This is something we have long called for,” added I. Stephanie Boyce.

“We are keen to continue to work closely with the Ministry of Justice and the Bar on design of an advisory board for criminal legal aid, which was recommended by the review.”

Notes to editors

  • See the government announcement and statement
  • The number of firms doing criminal defence work has roughly halved in the last 15 years. As of March 2022, there were just 1,058 firms holding a criminal legal aid contract compared with 2,010 in October 2007. See the yearly figures and the March figure
  • Only 4% of duty solicitors are aged under 35 and 81% of junior lawyers who responded to a Law Society survey said criminal law is not an attractive long-term career. See the heatmaps and survey results

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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