The Law Society Council yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to direct engagement with the Ministry of Justice on proposed changes to legal aid in order to 'secure the best possible deal' for all of its members and to ensure continued access to justice.
In a Council resolution, the Society reaffirmed its opposition to the cuts. The Council also endorsed the use of all appropriate resources to oppose the planned changes to civil legal aid, in particular the plans to restrict access to judicial review and the proposal to introduce a residency test.
The resolution comes after criminal barristers across England and Wales recently announced they will refuse to attend court for half a day on the morning of 6 January in protest at government cuts of up to 30% in income from legal aid. The Criminal Law Solicitors Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association announced last week that they will support the protest.
Family law barristers are also struggling due to legal aid cuts. Tooks Chambers stopped accepting new instructions in October as cuts to the legal aid budget mean that it is impossible for the set's work, 90% of which was publicly funded, to continue. The highly respected set, which was established in 1984, will formally dissolve on Friday 27 December 2013.
Further cuts to legal aid are expected as the Ministry of Justice announced in April plans to deliver additional savings of £220 million per year by 2018/19.