The government’s plan to impose a levy on top firms to help fund other parts of the justice sector has been put on the back-burner, the Gazette has learned, as the City looks at how it can voluntarily increase its support.
David Hobart (pictured), the chief executive of the City of London Law Society, told the Gazette that the idea of introducing a levy has now ‘receded’, but said he doubted that the option has been completely dropped.
Lord chancellor Michael Gove first floated his controversial plan to make City firms plug the justice funding gap in his speech to Legatum last June. Gove suggested that more could be done by ‘the most successful in the legal profession to help protect justice for all’.
The idea of a levy was initially mooted to replace the criminal court charge on defendants.
Hobart said the theme of making those who have benefited from the legal system fund the parts which are under pressure is not going to go away.
But for now the City is looking at a self-directed solution. Hobart said: ‘We are working as best we can with organisations such as the Civil Justice Council to see what assistance we can give.’
Another plan floated by Gove was to make City firms do more pro bono work to plug a legal aid gap.
Hobart said it is now unlikely that this would be government mandated, and said it is more likely that these firms themselves will do more to see how they can contribute by increasing their pro bono work.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, said: 'Nothing has changed. The justice secretary has been clear that those who benefit financially from our legal culture must do much more to help protect access to justice for all.
'We have begun constructive discussions with the sector about how we can best achieve this aim and will continue to explore a wide range of options with them.'