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Rebalancing the scales of justice

From shedding two-tier contracts to court closures and a dangerous drive towards securing convictions, 2016 has seen ups and downs for legal aid practitioners, recounts Jonathan Black

22 December 2016

This year will be remembered for many things, but not as the year the Ministry of Justice sought further cuts to access to justice, nor the year in which lawyers took to the streets in protest against legal aid cuts.

January began with uncertainty over the future of the new criminal contracts. The integrity of the marking system was under scrutiny through litigation via a two-pronged attack brought by Edward Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson (represented by Bindmans) and others on one side and the Fair Crime Contracts Alliance, which sought judicial review, on the other.

On 7 January, the Justice Alliance arranged the first event of the year: a public meeting. This was a historic occasion, not simply because it was the only outing of a papier mâché model of Michael Gove, or because Paul Harris, a managing partner of EFBW, shared a platform with Jeremy Corbyn, but because EFBW had succeed...

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