Separate consultation promised on judicial review curbs
Justice secretary Chris Grayling is forging ahead with cuts to civil legal aid – while making his planned curbs to judicial review the subject of a separate consultation.
In the second Transforming Legal Aid consultation, launched today, he said the residency test would go ahead, and the scrapping of legal aid for borderline cases.
The justice minister had revealed earlier this morning that he was ditching PCT for criminal legal aid but going ahead with a staged 17.5 per cent in fees.
This will be combined with a 30 per cent fee cut for very high cost criminal cases, removing eligibility from Crown Court defendants with annual incomes of over £37,500 and big restrictions on prison law.
The use of multiple advocates would be reduced, and, as featured in the original consultation paper launched this spring, there will be a 10 per cut in fees for solicitors in care cases, and fees for experts in all criminal and civil legal aid cases will be cut by 20 per cent.
Neurologists in clinical negligence cases, surveyors in housing disrepair cases and interpreters in London would be spared from the cuts, although fees for interpreters outside London would be cut by 12.5 per cent.
Maura McGowan QC (pictured), chairman of the Bar Council, said: “It remains the case that cuts to legal aid are the harshest in the public sector. The amount of money which the Ministry of Justice is seeking to save does not justify the consequences of these cuts.
“It is inevitable that this will impact heavily on the quality of both criminal and civil legal aid. The people who lose out the most are the public who rely on a justice system which operates efficiently in the public interest.”
Stephen Gowland, president of CILEx, said: “The renewed focus on streamlining the criminal justice process to make it simpler and quicker is welcome, and I acknowledge the concessions made to the original flawed proposals.
“We remain concerned about the arbitrary residence test and the impact it will have on the individual as well as the courts system.”
SOURCE: Solicitors Journal