The Ministry of Justice wishes to remove the right of defendants to instruct the solicitor of their choice on the basis that ‘the removal of choice may reduce the extent to which firms offer services above (my emphasis) acceptable levels’. See paragraph 23 of the criminal litigation price competition impact assessment (link is at the bottom of the page).
The Solicitors Regulation Authority requires solicitors to: act with integrity; act in the best interest of each client; provide a proper standard of service to each client; and behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in them and in the provision of legal services.
The MoJ is encouraging solicitors to ‘dumb down’ and thereby breach all of the above mandatory principles.
The Law Society should ban solicitors from undertaking work paid for by the MoJ until the ministry is able to demonstrate an ability to act with integrity in a way which maintains the trust the public places in it to ensure that publicly funded criminal defence legal services are provided to the best of the lawyer’s ability.
Molly Twomlow, Twomlows Solicitors, Monmouth