The Bar Council has welcomed a series of recommendations in an independent, cross-party review by The Westminster Commission on reforming legal aid. They include:
- Increasing legal aid fees in line with inflation
- Reversing the 8.75% cut made to criminal legal aid fees
- Setting up an Independent Legal Aid Fee Review Panel
The review concluded that these and other reforms were urgently required because: “… we found that the service being provided to the public is not sufficient and the legal aid profession as it stands is not sustainable.”
The report also recommends that the Government removes barriers to legal advice and representation in cases of domestic abuse; expands access to legal aid for bereaved families for inquests and stops the legal aid means test preventing access to justice.
Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar, said:
“These findings mirror our own conclusions; work in the legally aided sector is not sustainable without additional investment from Government. Legal aid is money well spent. It allows many social problems to be tackled relatively inexpensively at source as well as ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society have access to justice. We encourage the Government to consider and implement these important recommendations.”