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Give legal aid

Guy Mansfield calls for fair play for clients and lawyers in civil and criminal legal aid cases

7 October 2005

The provision of legal aid for those who need it is one of the hallmarks of a free and civilised society. Basic legal aid is a public service, but the respect it is due is suffering. It is essential that the government establishes an enduring system of assistance for those who need it. I shall address both criminal and civil legal aid, criminal first.

Criminal

In criminal work both barristers and solicitors have been badly let down. The hope is that Lord Carter’s review will come up with practicable conclusions which this government, having appointed him, cannot ignore. The Bar is actively engaged in discussions with Lord Carter to ensure that the system of procurement reflects the demands of contemporary criminal legal aid practice.

The introduction of plea and case management hearings was to be piloted earlier this year in three areas, but the DCA declined to put any money towards the initiative. As a result, advocates declined to undertake e...

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