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Parliament to decide on criminal advocacy fee cuts today

6 April 2010

A funding order cutting the fees of criminal legal aid advocates will be laid before both houses of Parliament today.

Justice secretary Jack Straw has decided to cut graduated fees by 4.5 per cent every year for the next three years and reduce the number of VHCC cases by increasing the threshold from 40 to 60 days.

It has been estimated that only around ten of 100 VHCC cases every year last for more than 60 days. The cuts in fees would be implemented on 27 April 2010 and the extension of the threshold on 14 July 2010.

The Bar Council has already launched a judicial review on the grounds that the consultation exercises for both measures were inadequate and unfair (see 16 February 2010).

However, Straw is not planning to extend the litigator graduated fee scheme to cases lasting 60 days, a decision which will relieve the Law Society.

A spokesman for the MoJ said that focusing more of the savings on the transfer of VHCC cases to the advocates’ graduated fees scheme would reduce the impact on more junior advocates, who were less likely to be undertaking work on more complex cases.

“This approach also allows a lesser reduction in graduated fees and to phase that reduction over three years – which will give advocates more time to adjust to the changes.”

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Legal Aid Contracts & Rights Tribunals & Courts Costs