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Criminal defence lawyers are the engine oil of the justice machine

Cuts will cause long-lasting damage to the system, argues Richard Hull

15 October 2013

Engine oil is relatively cheap compared to the cost of a new engine and it works without you even thinking about it. The same principle applies to legal aid.

High-profile cases have concentrated on the benefit to the defendant at the cost to the taxpayer but, when considering the overall cost of the administration of justice, the legal aid budget of £1.1bn represents good value. Every quarter, 240 magistrates courts deal with approximately 250,000 non-motoring cases and 77 crown courts hear approximately 37,000 cases. It costs around £1,700 a day to run a trial in 
a crown court. When a trial is labelled ineffective it is rescheduled for a future date - 
a process which has cost implications. If each of the administratively ineffective trials registered in 2012 failed on its first day, more than £2m would have been wasted. If any of these trials went on for more than a day before being scrapped, this cost would be greater.

The effect of bu...

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