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The announcement that a key proposal in the government’s drive to cut around £220 million from across the justice system would be scrapped came after widespread criticism from MPs and the Law Society. Concerns had been expressed that the plan would have allowed larger multinational firms to out-bid more specialised, smaller firms which may have greater expertise.
After protests by legal professionals this year, over the summer officials from the Ministry of Justice met with the Law Society, representing solicitors in England and Wales, to come up with alternative proposals to allow the necessary savings to be found. These include the removal of legal aid in many cases brought by people already in prison and an end to automatic legal aid for families with a combined annual disposable income of over £37,500 or £3,000 a month.
The decision to drop price-competitive tendering in legal aid cases is the second major proposal for reform to be dropped by the Ministry of Justice. Earlier this year, ministers announced they would be dropping another proposal which would have ended the right of defendants to choose the solicitor they wanted to represent them.
Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors have taken an active role in protesting changes to the justice system which could negatively affect people accused of a crime, in the name of cost-cutting. Solicitors from our Criminal Law department have travelled down to London to meet with other specialist legal professionals as well as attending conferences here on Merseyside aimed at uniting solicitors against measures that would damage access to justice.
Speaking about this latest announcement, Pete Mitchell, Liverpool-based Criminal Law Solicitor and Partner here at Canter Levin & Berg said:
“Whilst broadly speaking this is good news we still have to look at the detail contained within the Government’s response to the initial consultation. The Justice Ministry received an unprecedented 13,000+ responses to the initial consultation paper.
Yesterday’s announcement now opens a further 6 week consultation about the new proposals. Here at Canter Levin & Berg we are considering our position before we respond to this second consultation. We intend to keep up the pressure on this ill thought-out policy and would urge anyone else concerned by the proposals to do the same.”
If you have been accused of committing a criminal act, you need a Criminal Defence Solicitor who will represent you throughout the criminal justice process in the criminal courts. At Canter Levin & Berg our criminal defence solicitors represent clients in all of the Merseyside and Lancashire Courts as a matter of routine as well as having a national presence allowing us to operate in courts throughout England and Wales.
Our criminal defence solicitors offer a service tailored to the individual circumstances of each of our clients. We understand just how serious being accused of a criminal act can be for you. If the punishment for the offence that you are accused of carries with it a prison term, you may also be coming to terms with potentially losing your livelihood and the impact that that might have on your family. Canter Levin & Berg will make sure that a qualified criminal defence solicitor is available to you at all stages of the criminal process – should you require one.