Bar Council welcomes Government's agreement to unfreeze defendants' assets to remove pressure on legal aid

11 March 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed today's amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which will allow the unfreezing of wealthy defendants' assets to meet the costs of legal expenses.

Today's announcement is a significant victory and a welcome recognition of the Bar Council's lengthy campaign, in the public interest, to take pressure off of the legal aid budget.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"The Bar Council is delighted to hear today's agreement to unfreeze wealthy defendants' assets so that they can be used to meet their legal costs. Since 2010 we have been campaigning for this move to take pressure off a legal aid system, which the Government has already squeezed to breaking point. We urge the Ministry of Justice to use this opportunity to ensure that those most in need can have effective access to justice."

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.