Chris Graylingâ€™s proposal to cut legal aid may have had to be scaled back in the face of massive opposition from the legal profession, clients and the public, but it is clear that whatever concessions Grayling has made (getting rid of the tendering process proposal, for example), the majority of his damaging suggestions still remain in force (see this piece for a detailed outline of the impact this will have on civil cases).
As Nick Armstrong from Matrix Chambers puts it:
‘Chris Graylingâ€™s 5 September 2021 response to his Transforming Legal Aid consultation
- Still threatens the rule of law;
- Is subject to an investigation by the Joint Committee on Human Rights;
- Still takes the dangerous and unprecedented step of removing groups of people from accessing justice on grounds of their status;
- Will still prevent people from using judicial review to hold the state to account; and
- Will cost far more than it will save.
News today that Tooks Chamber - whose lawyers worked on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Hillsborough, the De Menezes and Princess Diana Inquests, the Birmingham Six, the Lockerbie/Omagh/Dublin Monaghan bombings and the Orgreave miners, and also represented Alfie Meadows in his three trials - is to dissolve by the end of the year makes it clear that many of the legal aid cuts have already had a devastating impact on those lawyers and law firms that take on legal aid work. As their statement puts it:
‘The dissolution of Chambers is the direct result of government policies on Legal Aid. The public service we provide is dependent on public funding. 90% of our work is publicly funded. The government policies led by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling are cumulatively devastating the provision of legal services and threatening the rule of law.â€™
The cuts to legal aid are abhorrent, dangerous, unjust and discriminatory. DTRTP will continue to support legal aid lawyers and all those fighting against these proposals til the bitter end.