I feel compelled to write in response to the feature by James Sandbach and the letter from Andrew Holroyd on the issue of criminal legal aid cuts.
Both seek to suggest that the Law Society’s conduct in negotiations with the lord chancellor which led to a proposed reduction in fees of 17.5% has been reasonable.
May I suggest otherwise. It is nonsense to suggest that we should be content with the ‘best of a bad job’. The reality is that no properly run criminal legal aid firm will be able to continue to provide a professional service if cuts of 17.5% are imposed.
The abolition of price-competitive tendering and lack of client choice provides no comfort if firms cannot afford to operate. The defence side of the criminal justice system as we know it will simply disappear.
I do not suggest that the problems we face are easy. Negotiating with someone who does not appear to understand all the details cannot be easy for the Law Society.
However, putting up with the impossible is not the solution.
The Society should be co-ordinating a political strategy in the media and elsewhere exposing the irredeemable consequences of these cuts. If we lose our criminal legal aid system we will never restore it to what it was.
Shaun Murphy, Edwards Duthie, Ilford