McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

More Criminal Firms Face Legal Aid Cull

The latest blow to solicitors who undertake Criminal Legal Aid is yet another strike at the system of criminal justice in England and Wales. (See Law Society Gazette 28th September)

It comes as no surprise that Michael Gove, the Justice Minister, after his contentious time as Minister for Education, has begun to wield the axe to bring down even more cuts on an area of the legal profession which has not, to my knowledge, enjoyed any rises in the Legal Aid rates payable since I began training back in the mid-nineties.

Of course, successive governments regardless of their political allegiances have all been guilty of eating away at the provision of Legal Aid, which was brought in as part of the sweeping welfare reforms after the Second World War.

The rates have not only remained the same year on year, (meaning that they were cut in real terms when inflation is accounted for) but have now been actually cut. I was astonished to discover this when completing a Defendant’s Order for Costs claim, having recently won a trial at the magistrates’ court for a client who had paid privately, due to the nature of the allegation.

The rules in these circumstances only allow a successful defendant to claim back their solicitor’s costs at legal aid rates. When I last carried out legally aided work, in 2008, the rates paid were inadequate; there had been vociferous concerns raised then, with many very good solicitors pulling out of publicly funded work. I was amazed to see that those rates were now even lower. They had been cut by 8.75%.

It is no wonder that over the past ten years that many very talented lawyers have moved onto pastures new, whether still within legal circles or to do something completely different.

The government cuts have affected the criminal justice system across the board; the police, CPS and courts have all also suffered with fewer police officers and stations, overworked staff and impending court closures. The government’s obsession with obtaining ‘value for money’ through its savings in the administration of justice is at the expense of justice being administered.

At McHale & Co we do not carry out publicly funded criminal work. We do not believe that our quality of work and how we carry it out should be determined by the whim of political expedience. Unhindered by the financial and bureaucratic pressures imposed upon firms who undertake Legal Aid work, we are able to focus solely on representing our clients.

We offer fixed and hourly-rate fees services for advice, assistance and representation at police stations and courts and are happy to discuss your case on a no obligation basis.

If you place a high value on your own or your family’s reputation, career prospects and future or simply want to make sure that you are dealt with justly, then our fees offer very good value indeed. Please contact us on 0161 928 3848 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk.

Categories: Criminal Defence
Tags: Legal Aid

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