Justice Alliance joins the protest on 22 July 2015 outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court, to fight for legal aid alongside a united profession

From 1 July 2015, thousands of criminal solicitors have refused to take on new legal aid cases, in protest against the government’s further cuts to fixed fees and proposed contract changes.

Patrick's story

Criminal barristers have since voted to join this action. Already there are reports of police stations and courts struggling to cope since lawyers have withdrawn their services.The further cuts will force lawyers out of business unless they are willing to cut corners by using unqualified staff and doing the bare minimum of work.

This will likely lead to innocent people being found guilty, and victims of crime won’t receive justice.

Law Protest Westminster-90

Janis Sharp, January 2014, Westminster Magistrates Protest “Without legal aid solicitors keeping my son Gary in this country until his freedom could be won, I have no doubt that Gary would have taken his own life rather than be taken in chains to the US and removed from his home, his family and all he has ever known. Cuts to criminal legal aid would affect generations to come: your children, your grandchildren and their grandchildren, and no-one knows when their family might need it. Quality, expert legal representation kept Gary here for years, until legal and medical expertise and the voice of the people, the media and ultimately the brave intervention of politicians saved Gary’s life.”

Interested parties have repeatedly tried to engage with the government to explain why these cuts are unnecessary, and have highlighted where alternative savings could be made. Despite evidence in support of the lawyers’ concerns, politicians have refused to listen, which has led to this drastic and historic action being taken. Lawyers have decided they would rather go out of business now by refusing work, than serve their clients and the justice system poorly.

Law Protest Westminster-34

The Justice Alliance wholeheartedly supports this campaign led by criminal lawyers. Our members are concerned that the new rules will severely limit access to justice. This not only affects those accused of a crime, but also victims of crime, who are poorly served when defendants are unrepresented. Victims of crime could be cross examined by their potential abusers, and justice will not be done. Further, these government proposals will lead to greater costs overall such as an increased prison population, so tax payers will ultimately shoulder higher, not lower, costs.

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