Update from the Chairman: Say No to Cut-Price Justice

3 May 2013

Say No to Cut-Price Justice - what can you do?

The development of our response to the Ministry of Justice's legal aid consultation continues. Our working groups are preparing the Bar's collective responses with the benefit of leading practitioner, economic, statistical and policy advice.

We want to ensure that work is complete before we publish and promote our comprehensive findings on the consultation.

In the meantime there are a number of principles on which we can all be clear and on which we do not need to wait to act. We need to work together to Say No to Cut-Price Justice.

To that end, we have partnered with 38 Degrees, a hugely influential campaigning group with a grassroots membership of over a million people, to raise awareness of the impact the Government's proposals.

38 Degrees has a strong record of engaging people across the UK to support its campaigns. They know how to get things done.

We believe 38 Degrees' support will make a real and positive difference to our campaign.

A petition is now live on 38 Degrees' website.

It can be found at:  http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-legal-aid-say-no-to-cut-price-justice.

I have signed it and I encourage you, and everyone you know, to do the same. I will be asking our colleagues in all branches of the profession to support the campaign.

I am aware of the Save UK Justice petition. I have signed it, and it has my full support. This is not a rival petition, but as well as working towards a debate in Parliament, it is working towards engaging people across the country to recognise the impact of the Government's proposals.

But there is more you can do. Write to your local MP to explain your concerns. Just a short, personal letter, explaining how these proposals will affect you as a constituent and the community in which you live and work is all that is required.

We suggest, in your own words, that you focus on three core points: 

  • It is against the public interest to introduce a system where legal services are provided on cost alone, by the lowest bidder, and not on quality 

  • It is against the public introduce a system where you have no choice of who represents you, and 

  • It is against the public interest to introduce a system which will hit female and BME practitioners hardest, and lead to a less diverse legal profession.

We want a justice system we can be proud of, not the cheapest one the Government can provide.

I will continue to work, in the public interest, to speak up for our justice system. I will provide updates as regularly as I am able to.

Maura McGowan QC
Chairman of the Bar