I hope I am never wrongly accused of a crime..(9 Posts)
..because I won't stand a chance.
The govt is cutting the legal aid budget and one of the consequences is that people accused of crimes will not have the right to choose their own solicitor if they need legal aid. Apparently, this is ok because they are all too ill informed to make the right choice anyway.
I know that cuts have been made across the majority of public services and that some of those have been very painful. I can't help but think that this is a step too far. Once this right is taken away, we will be just like the USA poor people are often denied justice. This scares me.
Chris Grayling has insisted that his legal aid reforms will go ahead and denounced critics who warn that price will prevail over quality.
The Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary also defended the abolition of a defendant's choice of lawyer, saying people were not up to making a selection.
'I don't believe that most people who find themselves in our criminal justice system are great connoisseurs of legal skills.
We know the people in our prisons and who come into our courts often come from the most difficult and challenged backgrounds.'
Full interview here Law Society Gazette
I'm open minded about the changes mentioned in the linked article.
I have been wrongly accused of a crime and used the services of the duty solicitor. At the time I had no clue whom I should have called. It's not something I am used to. But I also don't think that you can necessarily say that I could choose a better solicitor myself and a state appointed one is automatically worse.
I've also in the past implemented computerised case management systems for solicitors. And one of the biggest selling features at the time was the ability to see how much the running bill was and crucially how much was needed to knock the case into the next band. The unspoken idea was that if the gap wasn't big then the solicitor would knock up a few more letters, phonecalls or whatever to push them into the next tier enabling them to claim more. So from that point of view there is an element of playing the system which the government is right to try to crack down upon.
We'll see how it develops. As someone who was wrongly arrested I totally understand the importance of our legal system but at the same time I do think legal aid is sometimes by solicitors as a big pot to slurp as much out of.
I don't get why people are surprised about this? It's just another plank of the Tories demonisation of anyone who hasn't been privately schooled and earning six figure salaries like themselves. As a nation we're getting exactly what we voted for...
I started a thread on this a few weeks ago and apart from a few lawyers there wasn't a lot of interest (http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/a1738428-to-wonder-why-Chris-Graylings-plans-to-smash-our-justice-system-appear-to-have-gone-unnoticed-here).
The removal of the right to choose in this area goes against what had been done in other areas eg schools, GPs, hospitals. I find it very scary too.
Yes certainly scary. All the things the Coalition do to frighten people. And they say "we are helping them" Its a nonsense and they know it.
It is interesting Rooie that this topic doesn't generate as much interest as other cuts to public services. Perhaps most people don't think that they will ever need to use legal aid, so it doesn't affect them as much as cuts to other services and benefits.
I think part of it is that if you are the victim of a crime you don't get to choose who investigates or prosecutes your case either. There is an aspect of this being seen to "level the playing field". It's not a point I agree necessarily with, but I don't think the right to choose who the government pays for as your solicitor is the linchpin of a fair legal defence. Nor do I think "consumer choice" in this scenario is likely to drive quality, anymore than it seems to in education or health (where the reality of choice is also extremely limited).
I think the impact of set fees regardless of the reality of the case (i.e. trial or guilty plea) is a more worrying development for someone requiring legal defence.
"Perhaps most people don't think that they will ever need to use legal aid, so it doesn't affect them as much as cuts to other services and benefits"
I'd agree with that.
It's like the bank bailouts etc, most people dont understand what was done to them, so very little protest and yet it's driving much of these other cuts
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