Responding to the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid report, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“The report contains a comprehensive analysis of the underfunding of the criminal justice system over decades and its dire consequences, not just for lawyers, but for defendants, victims of crime and witnesses. The conclusion could not be clearer; urgent additional funding is needed if the entire system is not to face collapse with the profound societal problems and loss of confidence in the justice system that this would cause.
“The Bar Council welcomes the call for significant additional funding, a general uplift in fees and a restructuring of legal aid to ensure that work undertaken is remunerated appropriately and paid without delay. The report sets out minimum requirements for extra investment; more will be needed if the Government is to achieve its ambitious targets in relation to tackling serious crime and reducing the backlog.
“We urge the Lord Chancellor to respond without delay and to make a commitment to additional funding and the establishment of an Advisory Board, as the report strongly recommends. We look forward to working with the Government to implement other recommendations in a way which will make a positive difference to all who work in or come before the criminal courts.”
Sir Christopher Bellamy QC’s report, published yesterday (15 December), can be read here.
Notes to editors
The Bar Council represents all barristers in England and Wales.