The members of Lincoln House Chambers, Manchester fully support the action recommended by the Criminal Bar Association in its announcement this week.
Our members will not be accepting new cases under legal aid representation orders issued after 1st April 2018. We will be working with our colleagues in the criminal justice system to highlight the crisis in underfunding.
The criminal justice system exists to protect the public and maintain the rule of law. The essential pillars of the system must be:
– Access to justice to all who require it, regardless of their ability to pay
– A properly resourced courts system
– Effective probation and aftercare services
– An independent legal profession which provides a high calibre service
Financial cuts and ill-considered restructuring have starved much of our system of the resources which it desperately needs. The system has been able to stagger on only because of the goodwill – much abused – of judges, court staff, probation officers and the legal profession.
With the latest fee scheme proposed for criminal defence work we have now reached the point where goodwill can no longer be relied upon. Over the past 20 years, the profession’s fees have been cut by nearly 40%, mirroring the cuts to resources elsewhere. The profession engaged with the government in good faith over the structure of the new proposals, but the scheme has not been properly funded and there is no commitment to address that problem. We say: enough is enough. We are not prepared to suffer death by a thousand cuts.
The members of Lincoln House Chambers – 63 criminal specialists across all ages and call – have taken the decision individually and with a heavy heart that we will not accept any instructions under the new scheme. We support the action of the CBA in calling for further consideration.
This is a decision which we take with extreme reluctance. Our professional training and instincts make us extremely reluctant to place defendants in a difficult position. We are conscious also of the impact of the bar’s action on solicitors. But, this is a decision taken with an eye on the interests of many future litigants and defendants, whose interests will be very severely affected if the present failures are allowed to continue.
For more information, please contact David Wright, Director of Clerking, on 0161 832 5701.