The Law Society has called for an independent review into the economic sustainability of legal aid as it warns that the government’s reform of the advocates graduated fee scheme (AGFS) does not add up.

Chancery Lane said today that the £15m that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is proposing will not reverse the recruitment crisis among solicitors and barristers.

Society President Christina Blacklaws warned that the value of the AGFS funding package changes from year to year and although the investment is ‘worth £15m’ on 2016/17 data it is only worth £8.6m when 2017-18 data is applied. Further, as the figure includes VAT, 20% of it will go back to the Treasury, the Society said.

Blacklaws said: ‘Struggling junior bar and solicitor advocates will have little incentive to continue a career in criminal law under these proposals. Soon there will not be enough young lawyers entering the field of criminal law and many of those who have the training and experience no longer see a viable career doing criminal legal aid work.’

In its response to the government's proposals to settle the dispute over legal aid rates, the Society added that the value of the proposed package is highly dependent on assumptions about case types and volumes of work, vary considerably from year to year.