Further cuts to compound justice crisis

Further budget cuts will severely impact the already crisis-hit justice system, the Law Society of England and Wales has warned.

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) analysis of the autumn statement suggests the Ministry of Justice faces multi-million-pound cuts.*

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The justice system is crying out for investment and the government should take action now to ensure against further cuts.

“There are huge backlogs of criminal cases meaning unacceptable delays for victims and defendants with reports of hearings being listed for 2026.**

“Chronic shortages of judges and lawyers mean there isn’t enough capacity to cover all the cases and some of the courtrooms they sit in are falling apart.

“The OBR’s report highlights the strain on public services including the Crown Court backlogs hitting a record high of 65,000 in August this year.

“There’s little hope of the government achieving its target of cutting the backlog to 53,000 by March 2025 unless it invests in justice now.

“Numbers of criminal defence solicitors – who are the bedrock of the criminal justice system – are in rapid decline. We’ve been forced to take the government to court in December to try and get them the recommended minimum legal aid rate increase after Dominic Raab ignored his government’s own independent review.

“There are also massive delays in the civil courts and huge areas of the country where there are no legal aid lawyers available. A long overdue review into the sustainability of civil legal aid is underway but will be too late if cuts continue.***

“The impact of further cuts on an already overstretched and understaffed justice system are unthinkable,” added Nick Emmerson.

“Cuts to the justice system are incompatible with the government’s wish to be tough on crime. Only through serious investment will the government resolve the crisis in our justice system.”

Notes to editors

*See the Office for Budget Responsibility’s analysis

**Cases being listed to 2026 reported

***Find out more about the civil legal aid review

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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