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Live aid

Threats to legal aid are a hot topic at this year’s Law Society conference, but despite the negative rumours the system is not dead yet, says Richard Miller

15 October 2004

Fixed fees, Fundamental Review, competitive tendering, cuts in crime and immigration, advice deserts, salaried services, strikes… the air is thick with rumours of the death of legal aid. But rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated. That is not to say that we aren’t going through a very difficult period. We are. But this is a transition to something better. There are a number of reasons I can maintain my optimism. One is the outcome of the public spending round. The Department of Constitutional Affairs managed to maintain the budget in real terms for the next three years. This is not compatible with the wish to destroy legal aid that some people ascribe to the government. Secondly, the government is close to the limits below which it cannot go, because of treaty obligations. Thirdly, there is a growing recognition of the impact of other departments’ policies on the legal aid budget. Fourthly, LSC chief executive Clare Dodgson is doing an excellent job in engaging with...

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