The government is succeeding in its latest attacks the poorest and most vulnerable with its latest reforms to legal aid which it has been said will encourage the innocent to plead guilty and the guilty to plead innocent.
In another example of its dunderheaded thinking the government is pushing through its cuts to legal aid without going through parliament – just in case those annoying details which have been missing from so much of its ‘reform’ get exposed.
To find an exposé of the government’s proposals check out Luke Pollard’s post For Profit Justice is Where There is No Justice for All.
The changes will mean that those seeking legal aid will be given a solicitor from the winners of competitive tenders, based on the cheapest tender – it could be Tesco who ends up representing you.
Those in need of legal aid will have choice stripped away from them with a private firm offered the supermarket sweep of defending clients. Choice and specialist representation goes out the window.
And because there’s a flat fee for the private firms whether the people plead innocent or guilty, there’s a financial incentive for the privately run legal aid firms to persuade their clients to plead guilty. It doesn’t take a great legal mind to work that out, but maybe it’s beyond those who are drawing up the laws in the country at the moment.
Thankfully a group of about 80 from Devon and Cornwall has voted in favour of possible protest action over proposed changes to legal aid, according to the BBC.
Exeter solicitor Rachel Bentley said the changes would be “catastrophic for the justice system”.
Rachel said: “There are lawyers nationally and locally who would favour industrial action at some point and others who would favour it now.
“There is the issue of quality and how that will suffer with no incentive for lawyers to work hard, and there is greater concern for the principles of justice.”
The campaign against the legal aid ‘reform’ can be found at www.saveUKjustice.net and there’s also a Facebook page.