Bar Council responds to MoJ legal aid announcements

9 April 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has responded to today's Ministry of Justice ('MoJ') announcement on legal aid.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"After a sustained period of lobbying by the Bar Council, it is welcome that the MoJ appears to have acknowledged that it would not be in the public interest to introduce competition for Crown Court advocacy. We will consider the long-term implications of tendering for advocacy in the lower courts.

"Whilst tendering for Crown Court advocacy is not an option which is being consulted upon, that news comes alongside swingeing fee cuts, which will hit the criminal Bar exceptionally hard. The publicly-funded Bar is a vital front-line service, which is already at breaking point. For those who have invested a decade or more in developing their skills and expertise, these proposals, alongside prosecution cuts, will be a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

"The Government's announcements today go much wider than criminal legal aid. There is a vast amount of detail, which we will consider carefully and respond to in detail. Our primary objective must be to have a justice system which protects and promotes the Rule of Law, is cost-effective and provides access to justice for all."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. For further information, please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or Press@BarCouncil.org.uk .

2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.