Bar Council to give evidence to Justice Committee on legal aid proposals

11 June 2013

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, will today give evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the Ministry of Justice's plans to introduce price competitive tendering (PCT) for criminal legal aid contracts.

In its full response to the Ministry of Justice's Consultation Paper, published last week, the Bar Council rejected the Government's proposals and warned of significant risks to the British justice system should they go ahead.

Maura McGowan QC,Chairman of the Bar, said:

"We welcome the Justice Select Committee's scrutiny of the Government's legal aid proposals. We are concerned that the Ministry of Justice is pursuing such reforms without consulting Parliament.

"We invite the Committee to consider whether this is the opportunity to call for a full review of the criminal justice system.

"People who find themselves accused of a criminal offence will no longer be able to be represented a lawyer of their choice but instead will have to accept whoever is allocated to represent them, based on contracts where the lowest bidder wins.

"MPs will find many high street solicitors' firms in their constituencies, valuable small businesses, driven out of the market by big suppliers who may have no track-record in legal services or in the communities which they will be serving.

"The disastrous impact that these reforms will have are obvious for anyone to see. We hope the intervention of the Justice Committee will bring even further attention to the Government's plans, before it is too late to change them."

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. Details of evidence session can be found here.

3. The Bar Council's full consultation response can be found here.

4. 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.