Bach rejects Society’s legal aid fee cut fears

first_imgLegal aid minister Lord Bach (pictured) has rejected Chancery Lane’s demand for an extension to the consultation period on proposed criminal legal aid cuts. He also dismissed the Law Society’s allegation that the August consultation paper Legal aid: funding reforms is ‘incoherent’ and ‘deeply flawed’. The paper proposes cutting fees to duty solicitors and reducing Crown court defence barristers’ rates to bring them in line with prosecution fees. It also puts forward other reductions to payments made for advocacy and litigation in the Crown court. The Society has so far declined to respond to the consultation, claiming that it is ‘not reasonably able to understand what the proposals are’. Bach was responding to a hard-hitting letter from Law Society president Robert Heslett, sent to the Ministry of Justice in early September. In that letter Heslett outlined what he described as a ‘host of inconsistencies’ in the consultation, including the lack of any explanation of the Government’s policy aims and what is meant by ‘oversubscription’ on police station schemes.In a detailed reply, Bach stresses that the MoJ is operating to a ‘strict budget’ and stresses that savings must be made in the criminal legal aid budget to protect funding for civil legal aid. The government’s proposals are targeted at ‘removing anomalies, disparities and duplication’ within the existing regime to generate savings, he adds. Lord Bach’s letter can be read: at: Chancery Lane is considering its response. The consultation closes on 12 November.last_img