We welcome the High Court’s ruling striking down the lord chancellor’s scheme to cut criminal legal aid for some of the most complicated and difficult Crown court cases.
The scheme had meant that huge amounts of work in terms of considering paperwork and preparing cases were, in effect, unremunerated. The Law Society had sought to challenge the scheme as irrational and unfair. The High Court agreed and was scathing about the fundamental flaws that were uncovered in the way that the Ministry of Justice made the decision.
Those accused of serious and complex crimes should be entitled to have a defence team, properly funded, who can review the evidence, highlight flaws in the prosecution and conduct active defence investigations. The MoJ has rightly been criticised for its irrational approach to this decision. Our clients should have the right to a fair trial; this ruling will help us to fight for that.
Raj Chada is a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, London NW1