Barristers speak with one voice to oppose further legal aid cuts

8 February 2014

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, is today holding a national meeting of the profession, in London, to voice the Bar's opposition to legal aid cuts and their impact on access to justice.
 
Hundreds of barristers, solicitors and law students will come together in Lincoln's Inn to hear speakers from across the profession explain how the Ministry of Justice's further proposed cuts to criminal and civil legal aid will endanger vulnerable people in need of high quality legal representation.
 
Nicholas Lavender QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:
 
"This is a vital opportunity to demonstrate that the whole profession stands together in support of the Rule of Law and access to justice, which are under grave threat from the Government's proposed cuts.
 
"The Government says that it needs to make savings, but the proposed cuts to the fees paid for advocates in the Crown Court are both unnecessary, because legal aid costs are falling anyway, and a false economy, because they will end up generating more costs than they save. Under the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) plans, these cases would no longer be conducted by the skilled and experienced advocates on whom our criminal justice system depends, and the publicly-funded Bar of the future would be significantly less diverse, resulting in less diversity in the judiciary in years to come. The greatest victims would be the public interest and the society which we seek to serve.
 
"What is more, these cuts endanger our outstanding international reputation for upholding the Rule of Law. The damage which these cuts would plainly do to our domestic system would have a wide-reaching and global effect on a legal services sector which generates billions of pounds of revenue for our economy each year.
 
"It is not too late for the MoJ to reflect on the damage which its cuts will cause and to review the justice system sensibly and properly with the profession, so that we can achieve savings whilst maintaining access to justice."

ENDS

 
Notes to Editors

1. Further  information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525. To register for the event, please email Press@BarCouncil.org.uk

2. The event will take place at the Great Hall in Lincoln's Inn at 09:30 on Saturday 8 February 2014 (expected finish time 12:30). For more information, please click here. Follow the event on Twitter: #oneBaronevoice

3. Speaking at the event, 'One Bar: one voice - United for Justice' will be:

  • Nicholas Lavender QC, Chairman of the Bar

  • Nigel Lithman QC, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association

  • Paul Harris, Managing Partner of Edward Fail Bradshaw & Waterson Solicitors and former President of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association

  • Timothy Fancourt QC, Chair of the Chancery Bar Association

  • Susan Jacklin QC, Chair of the Family Law Bar Association

  • Martin Westgate QC, Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association

  • Hannah Evans, third six pupil at 23 Essex Street Chambers, and

  • Sarah Forshaw QC, Leader of the South-Eastern Circuit.

4. To read the Bar Council's submissions to the MoJ's consultations on legal aid, please click here.
 
5. 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.