If Mr Grayling wants a ‘stunning’ alternative to price-competitive tendering, then why not:Presumably, all or any of the foregoing could be put in place without primary legislation involving the consent of parliament.
- Charge and collect fees at all levels of legal aid, police stations and criminal courts (including court duty solicitors) on the basis of a contribution proportionate to income, with the discretion to refuse those who default in paying, or to exempt those who are vulnerable, such as those suffering from defined mental health problems, or who can otherwise establish exceptional hardship.
- All legal firms and barristers’ chambers, or other approved legal organisations practising UK law under the umbrella of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, should pay a levy based on gross annual earnings/fees to fund legal aid.
- All the clearing banks should be invited to make a voluntary contribution towards the cost of legal aid for, say, the next five years, at £125m each per annum.
- The Treasury should seek quantitative easing, which apparently the Bank of England intends to recover in any event, whether it takes 50 or 500 years, to wipe off the £650m or thereabouts owed to the courts in fines, surcharge payments and compensation orders. The £650m debt could then be repaid from fines and costs in future years.
- All those in the court system whose costs or fees are recovered from the state or the ‘other side’ should pay a surcharge. This would apply to very high cost cases down to the magistrates’ court, on a sliding scale. This would apply to any costs recovered, that is those payable to the Crown Prosecution Service and in any form of tribunal, or regulatory proceedings dealing with the interpretation or application of the law.
- Use all proceeds of crime and confiscation monies for the legal aid system rather than payment to the Treasury.
Stephen Ritter, Phillips & Co, Salisbury, Wilts