As of Wednesday 1st of July solicitors in Liverpool are refusing to take on ALL new legal aid work. This is following cuts of 8.75% made to the fees paid by legal solicitors coming into affect on the same date.
A similar situation arose in May featuring the largest law firm in Northern Ireland Kevin Winters and Company this is however the first instance on mainland U.K.
This means that no new legal aid work will take part in the Merseyside area (amounting to approximately 40 firms). The knock on effect of such action could mean delays to the court system due to lack of legal representation, it could also lead to overpopulation of prisons due to lack of representation in the pursuit of bail for defendants.
In response to such cuts to legal aid Ralli Solicitors LLP Manchester have developed a new fixed fee service. This service is designed for those who have unexpectedly found themselves in need of legal representation from a fixed fee criminal defence solicitor.
Zoe Gascoyne, a partner at Liverpool law firm Quinn Melville who is also a committee member of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, said: “We are taking this stand on the basis that the cuts will completely decimate the criminal justice system. “This is not something that we wanted, but we are genuinely concerned about the effect the cuts will have.”
The Ministry of Justice has stated that there will be no negative effect upon the court process and has “plans in place to ensure the criminal justice system continues to operate efficiently.
A spokesman said: “Although the transition will be challenging, the changes we are pressing ahead with are designed to ensure we have a system of criminal legal aid that delivers value for money to taxpayers, that provides high quality legal advice to those that need it most, and that puts the profession on a sustainable footing for the long term.”