Criminal practitioner groups are urgently appealing for funds ahead of next week’s Court of Appeal hearing on the lord chancellor’s legal aid reforms.

The appeal, concerning Chris Grayling’s decision to press ahead with two-tier contracts for criminal legal aid, will be heard on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last month the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, along with the Law Society, lost their High Court challenge to the contracts. But Lord Justice Laws allowed them to take their case to the Court of Appeal, where they were granted permission to appeal the High Court’s decision.

A suspension on the tender process for 527 duty provider contracts - placed in December - remains.

The practitioner groups said they require urgent donations to their campaign fund by this weekend. CLSA chairman Bill Waddington (pictured) and vice-chairman Robin Murray said: ‘Despite having raised a lot of money very quickly, hard-pressed legal aid firms need the help of the wider profession in keeping the appeal alive against Grayling’s savage assault upon access to justice.

‘Our reputation as a leading centre of legal excellence will be irreparably harmed if we are unable to continue the fight. We need immediate help. There are many non-legal aid firms who understand this and we hope they will help their brothers and sisters in the hard-pressed legal aid world by urgently contributing to this fight.’

The campaign fund can be found at this website.