Bar Council welcomes Government's recognition of choice in legal aid

1 July 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP's recognition that choice of lawyer should be preserved in criminal legal aid. The departure from the Government's original proposal comes in a letter from the Lord Chancellor to Sir Alan Beith MP, the Chairman of the Justice Select Committee, before which the Lord Chancellor is due to give evidence on Wednesday (3 July).

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"Retaining client choice in legal aid would represent a significant victory for the broad coalition which has been pressing the Government to think again about some of its proposals. We welcome the Government's change of heart on this, but we hope it is also listening to the many voices which are clear that price competitive tendering in any form is not a suitable mechanism for allocating legal aid contracts. Legal aid contracts should not just go to the bidders who are willing to do the work for the lowest price. We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue to achieve a system which genuinely works in the public interest." 

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525.

2. The Bar Council's previous statements on the current legal aid consultation can be found  here.

3. 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.