JLD statement – Criminal Legal Aid Review
The JLD welcomes the announcement from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that an additional £6m per year in funding is being provided, in addition to the funding set out in the accelerated items.
However, this additional funding merely scratches the surface of the funding required to rescue the criminal legal aid profession. The increase of £6m is little in comparison to the CPS funding increase worth up to £85m last year. There is a serious lack of balance which threatens the fairness of our justice system.
We thank the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland for his recent letter dated 21 August 2020 recognising that "…there is much more to be done".
There is much more to be done, and action needs to be taken as soon as possible.
The JLD is also pleased to note that the next phase of CLAR will be independently led. However, the devil is in the detail. The MoJ must release further information on how this will be run and what the time frames are for the stages of the review and when the review is expected to conclude.
The ongoing criminal legal aid crisis needs immediate attention, in circumstances where more firms continue to close and junior lawyers either continue to leave this practice area or are put off altogether.
We eagerly await a further update from the MoJ on the next steps and the timeline.