Today we launch our consultation into four “accelerated areas” of the Criminal Legal Aid Review, that we agreed to fast track in response to your most pressing concerns.
The consultation includes proposals on how:
- litigators are paid for work on sending cases to the Crown Court
- litigators and advocates are paid for work on unused material
- advocates are paid for work on paper heavy cases, and
- advocates are paid for cracked trials in the Crown Court.
I know many of you have been liaising with the MoJ’s Criminal Legal Aid team to help us get the evidence we need, and I’d like to thank you for your input so far.
I have welcomed the regular conversations I have had with the leaders of the Bar Council, The Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association — to keep them updated on our progress, listen to their views and discuss where we can work together, and I will continue to do that throughout this consultation process.
From my own lengthy time at the criminal Bar, where my defence practice overwhelmingly consisted of criminal legal aid cases, I know about the hard work, energy and commitment required to prepare and present cases in court, and to ensure that the client fully understands the process.
I know that litigators seek to work efficiently and conscientiously too.
Taken together, these proposals represent an additional £32m-£50m for criminal legal aid, with this additional funding estimated to be broadly split evenly between solicitor firms and barristers.
Following this first step, we will also consider hourly rates as part of the fuller review, particularly in the context of the sustainability of the wider market.
I recognise that there is much more for us to do. These discrete areas represent a first step towards the fuller review, which will focus on the sustainability of the whole criminal legal aid system.
I hope that you will carefully consider our initial proposals for change, and that you will give us your expert and honest opinions about what we have proposed.
You can read the consultation in full and submit your contribution at our consultation website.