On 6th January 2014 for the first time, Criminal Lawyers declined to work for the morning leaving Magistrates and Crown Courts at a standstill in England and Wales following plans by Chris Grayling to make yet more cuts to legal aid.
The Government have embarked on a lengthy and misleading campaign to try to persuade the public that Solicitors and Barristers working in the sector are ‘fat cats’ to try and keep the public from engaging with the real effects of their swinging cuts on the system. The figures they have used have been shown up time and time again as being deliberately misleading and their rhetoric can at best be classed as unhelpful. The fact that legal aid for Barristers and Solicitors has been cut so much makes many Firms consider whether this service provision is even viable any more let alone with a further £220 million of cuts. We see Solicitors offices and Counsels Chambers closing around us and still this seems to not be enough for this Lord Chancellor. The System has been shaken already in quality and those within it can see this clearly, from Police cuts to Prosecution, Probation and Defence.
Justice has to be done and seen to be done in any civilized society. We are now at the stage where neither victims of crime nor those wrongly accused can be confident in the system which Chris Grayling has brought upon us, that is why Solicitors and Barristers were withdrawing labour from Grantham Magistrates Court where I work, all the way to the Old Bailey in London.
Its easy to not care about the Justice System, unless youre involved in it then it just ticks along in the background. But with no Solicitors and Barristers on either side, there will be no one to defend the wrongly accused and no one to prosecute the guilty and that is genuinely where these cuts will take us.
Over a week on from that withdrawal of services what has been the effect? Well so far as far as this author has seen not very much, but then you would perhaps not expect an immediate response. The hope is that it may have made those in Government realise what an essential cog in the wheels of justice legal aid is, and what the landscape will be if that labour is completely withdrawn. Will it make Chris Grayling think again? We will have to see but it may take more than a half day withdrawal of work to make him realise the course of destruction which he is sailing. The Government response to the most recent Consultation with the Profession is due out soon and we will know more then about the future of legal aid.
That is why Ringrose Law supported the withdrawal of labour in this matter.
For more ifnormation or to talk to our Criminal Defence Team please contact us directly at one of our offices in Boston, Lincoln, Grantham, Sleaford, Spalding and Newark.