Angered and galvanised: government blunder pushing solicitors to action
On 8 November, criminal legal aid firm owners met to discuss what steps they can take as they wait for the government’s final response to the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid later this month.
Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “An escalation of action by law firm owners is near inevitable, given the government’s baffling refusal to implement the bare minimum 15% increase for criminal defence solicitors recommended by its own review.”
Solicitors need equality, not empty promises
“The government caved into barrister strike action but is refusing to give parity to solicitors who kept the wheels of justice turning during that strike. This has angered and galvanised the solicitor profession.” said Lubna Shuja.
“Some criminal law solicitors are now considering forming a union to organise direct action. They have seen government does not listen to reason and that direct action gets results.”
“Solicitors are the backbone of the criminal justice system. Without them it will collapse. They are leaving the profession in droves because they are not being treated fairly and equally.”
If nothing is done to stop those remaining from leaving:
- the court backlogs will continue to grow
- many people will be denied access to justice
- talk of being ‘tough on crime’ will be understood to be nothing but empty promises
“Ultimately this is a question of government competence. Do they have a joined-up plan to tackle the crisis in the criminal justice system? What we have seen so far suggests they do not and the danger of this is trust in the system will be fatally undermined,” Lubna added.
“If the government doesn’t give solicitors parity when its full response to the review is published later this month, we will make it clear to our members that there is no viable future in criminal legal aid work.”