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Parliament warned of ‘threat to profession’s independence’ over legal aid funding decisions

There is a “worrying trend” towards potential government interference in decisions over the grant of legal aid that threaten the independence of the profession, a leading solicitor warned parliamentarians this week. She also highlighted the so-called ‘embarrassment clause’ put into criminal contracts by the Legal Aid Agency.

March 16th, 2018 | No Comments »

Bach Commission: “Only legislation will resolve crisis in legal aid system”

The right to justice should be enshrined in an Act of Parliament to ensure that nobody is denied legal assistance because they cannot afford it, according to the final report of the Bach Commission. It said problems with the justice system were so wide that only legislation was sufficient to guarantee fundamental rights

September 22nd, 2017 | No Comments »

“Part of the system” – ethnic minority defendants do not trust solicitors, Lammy report finds

Black, Asian and minority ethnic defendants do not trust legal aid solicitors and often enter not guilty pleas against advice as a result, according to a major report. The Lammy Review said BAME defendants often saw duty solicitors as ‘part of the system’ and so pleaded not guilty.

September 8th, 2017 | No Comments »

Paid McKenzie Friends “play on uncertainty and victimhood” of separating fathers

‘Professional’ paid McKenzie Friends associated with fathers’ rights groups play on their “uncertainty and sense of victimhood” to attract business, academic research has found, saying that there needed to be a code of conduct and a greater role for law school clinics in their place.

April 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

Divert court reform cash to legal aid and support for innovation, says LAG

Some of the over £970m earmarked by the government for civil and criminal court reform should be used instead to stem the collapse in spending on legal aid, the Legal Action Group has suggested. It argued that the civil legal aid system was “in free fall” and the underspend in its budget over the last three years should be reinvested in an “innovation and early intervention” fund.

January 4th, 2017 | No Comments »

Digital legal services for low-income clients “close to tipping point”

The digital delivery of legal services in England and Wales to people formerly on legal aid could be at the cusp of a “tipping point”, according Britain’s foremost researcher into online law, Professor Roger Smith. He also predicted that high street law firms would be increasingly vulnerable to website-based national brands, as retailers have been to Amazon.

June 3rd, 2016 | No Comments »

MoJ wins privilege battle over PowerPoint slides prepared by counsel for training session

PowerPoint slides prepared by external counsel for training at the Ministry of Justice were subject to legal professional privilege and did not have to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, the First-Tier Tribunal has ruled.

April 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

High Court awards Lord Chancellor £1m in battle with legal aid firm

The Lord Chancellor has been awarded almost £1m by the High Court in its battle with a legal aid firm over payments on account. Mr Justice Holgate said the evidence showed “over-claiming to a substantial extent in a substantial number of cases” by Charles Ete & Co.

February 19th, 2016 | No Comments »

High Court ruling outlines extraordinary scale of allegations against Blavo & Co

A High Court judge has said there is a “strongly arguable case” that collapsed firm Blavo & Co, formerly the UK’s leading mental health practice, made “many thousands” of false legal aid claims. The court heard that following its collapse, the firm owed the Legal Aid Agency over £22m.

February 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

Barristers who work for free could be breaching referral fee ban, Bar Council warns

Criminal barristers who agree to work for law firms “for no fee” could be breaching the referral fee ban, the Bar Council has warned. The Bar Council said law firms were “wrong to suggest no fee is available” where counsel was “unassigned”.

January 7th, 2016 | No Comments »