Indecision and delay kicks criminal legal aid decision into the long grass

The UK government’s indecision and delay on funding the criminal legal aid system has effectively kicked the issue into the long grass, the Law Society of England and Wales warned.

Lord chancellor, Alex Chalk, met with the Law Society on 29 April following the Law Society’s High Court victory over criminal legal aid on 31 January. At the meeting, he agreed to closely engage with the Society further as it seeks to secure a sustainable funding model for the sector.

Since the judgment, the government has failed to deliver results despite the lord chancellor being on record saying "some extremely trenchant, sobering and striking remarks were made by the court [in response to the judicial review], which I have read carefully and very much taken on board”.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said:

“Four months on from our High Court victory, the government’s failure to act quickly on the ruling, in spite of 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.”

Notes to editors

• Find out more about the judicial review here.

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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