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What does the future hold for criminal legal aid?

While welcome, the government's recent decisions do little to address the uncertainty in the system, writes Áine Kervick

8 March 2016

On 28 January, Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) members joined many in the legal community in breathing a collective sigh (not quite of relief), as we received confirmation from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that the second fee cut was suspended and two-tier contracts were scrapped.

In a written ministerial statement, Michael Gove acknowledged the vital role that criminal legal aid solicitors play in the justice system and explained that the decision was based on two factors:

  • Government savings: according to the MoJ, annual spending on legal aid was reduced from £2.4bn to £1.6bn over the last parliament; and

  • Legal challenges: 99 separate legal challenges and a judicial review of the entire procurement process were brought.

The news broke after an increasingly unpredictab...

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