… unusually for me.
The Law Society Gazette has published an excellent article which echoes many of the sentiments I hold.
It’s worth looking at the comments at the bottom, because Stephen Halloran of Lawtons Solicitors makes a rather good point.
The consultation is aimed at reducing expenditure by £220 million, but the paper is based on old data about legal aid fees, before recent cuts, rather than current data reflecting cuts which have already been made. The fees being paid in legal aid now are already significantly lower than those referred to in the consultation document.
I knew that much. However, Mr Halloran has very diligently done the maths, and points out that apparently savings of £168 million have already been achieved.
That would suggest that a far smaller saving is required to get the MOJ to the level it apparently wants to achieve – only £52 million.
To impose further cuts on top of such already significant cuts will lead to bid figures very much lower than even the consultation envisages. This is not a financially viable model for the provision of basic services, let alone quality ones in the interest of justice.
Secondly, if the savings to be achieved are relatively modest, only relatively modest changes would be required to implement them. No need to destroy an entire system and cause thousands of redundancies for such a small gain. The entire process becomes utterly disproportionate.
And of course it could be asked whether the savings from legal aid are already sufficient, and changes elsewhere in Government could make up the difference.
Indeed, the cost of consulting, considering responses, reporting, legislating, and dealing with the knock-on effects from the process and whatever results from it are likely to far outweigh these modest savings.
The MOJ should think again.