Law Society warns MPs proposed legal aid cuts would hit solicitors' firms (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Law Society warns MPs proposed legal aid cuts would hit solicitors' firms
7:30pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in News
PROPOSED changes to the legal aid system will present 'significant risks' to the future of the law sector - MPs have been told today.
The Justice Select Committee was warned by the Law Society, representing solicitors affected by the proposals, that they could destabilise the system.
Chris Grayling MP, the secretary of state for Justice, has come under fire for controversial reforms aimed at saving millions and modernising the system.
During analysis of the issues today by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee, MPs were told to beware.
The Law Society tabled its formal response to the government's consultation, which is called Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps.
While noting that the Society and the MoJ are “in agreement over the proposed structure for procuring criminal legal aid in the future” the submission from the Society makes it clear it “opposes planned fee cuts and reiterates warnings about the damage these may cause.”
Nicholas Fluck, Law Society President, said in a statement: “Following discussion between the MoJ and the Law Society over the summer, the Ministry put forward a fresh proposal for the tendering of criminal legal aid contracts on September 5.
"That revised model will see client choice retained, all firms able to undertake unlimited own-client work and duty solicitor contracts allocated according to capacity and capability, not price and represents the best possible tendering structure for criminal legal aid.
“However, the fee changes proposed in the consultation are a cause for serious concern. Given the fragility of the legal aid market, a cut of 17.5% poses a significant risk to the future sustainability of the sector.
“Before taking the risk of proceeding with fee cuts, the Ministry must be very sure that the solicitors and their firms are on a robust enough financial footing to withstand this .”
The justice select committee has been hearing evidence all summer into the proposals.
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