Funding legal services – election promises

Wednesday 28 April 2010 at 4:59 am | In News | Post Comment

The £2.1bn annual legal aid budget is to be reviewed under manifesto commitments made by both Labour and the Tories. The Bar Council says changes already announced could lead to senior advocates abandoning legal aid work, as the gross hourly rate for a defence barrister with 10 years’ experience acting for a client in a robbery case is due to fall from about £50 an hour to about £30.

Not only the rate of pay for lawyers but also the court facilities themselves are under funding pressures. None of the three main parties is committed to addressing concerns about the effect on communities of closures of magistrates’ courts.
Labour’s manifesto promises greater savings in the legal aid and court systems to “help protect frontline services”.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats attack Labour’s record on closing courts, but both stop short of pledging to reopen any of them.

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