News Column

Integrity of the Legal System in Danger Following Fresh Plans to Cut Criminal Legal Aid

Mar 13 2013 12:00AM



LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwire) -- 03/13/13 -- A top criminal defence solicitor's firm, DPP Law, has vehemently criticised the MOJ today following announcements of plans to slash criminal legal aid further, claiming the move would be somewhat crude and foolish.

"Reduced costs in criminal cases will inevitably lead to competitive tendering and in turn dramatically drive down quality," says Paul Lewis, Partner and Criminal Defence Expert at DPP Law.

"We only have to draw upon the examples of the MOJ's recent shambolic handling of the court interpreter contract as well as the G4S Olympic fiasco to see that leaving such matters subject to market forces is ill-judged and unwise.

"The method in which the proposals set out to cut the budget is fundamentally wrong and will if implemented, have devastating effects," Mr Lewis says.

"Focusing on price alone, completely disregards quality, independence and ultimately justice. The right of a defendant is effectively denied when the ability for choice is taken out of the equation."

Drawing upon Maura McGowan, QC, Mr Lewis highlights that in primary health care, choice of service-users has become a driving-force in the improvement of the quality of services and is now entrenched in the NHS constitution. The ability of the patient to move elsewhere is a powerful incentive to provide the very best, and the same principle applies to legal services.

This begs the question as to how this can be sustained in a climate where criminal defence firms are forced to drop criminal legal aid cases?

"There should be proportionality to people's needs and the system must be flexible enough to take personal circumstances into account," Mr Lewis continues.

"The result of the continual undermining of the Rule of Law will only lead to frustration and lack of confidence in the system."

Dani Telford
Marketing & Communications Manager
0151 922 5525

Source: Marketwire

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