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Legal Aid at 60

Date:16 JUN 2009

As part of their Legal Aid at 60 campaign, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) is calling for practitioners to submit any interesting stories about people being helped by the legal aid system.

The LSC have created an anniversary website, legalaid60, to mark the 60th year of legal aid in England and Wales.

However, some family lawyers are sceptical about the future of legal aid. Last week at the Annual Conference of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks, Desmond Browne QC, the Chairman of the Bar, spoke about the current legal aid crisis and called for creative solutions.

He criticised the Government's continued "efficiency savings", which create advice deserts for both solicitors and barristers, highlighting the recent King's College study on family practitioners as evidence of the impact cuts have had on the family bar.

In his speech, Desmond Browne QC urged the Legal Services Commission to adopt a more sensible approach to negotiations over family fees, as it had previously over Very High Cost Cases. He invited the audience to consider two possible solutions to the issue of access to legal representation, direct access and block contracting, both of which would have a significant impact on chambers.

Providing an update to chambers on the Bar Council's work in relation to Jackson LJ's review of civil litigation costs, he advised those present to ensure chambers are fully briefed on the latest developments in the debate over conditional fee arrangements and CLAFs.