The practitioner groups representing criminal solicitors have welcomed yesterday’s vote by the Law Society council to mandate fresh support for members facing the potentially devastating consequences of legal aid reforms.

The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association are taking advice on Chancery Lane’s ‘generous’ offer of assistance.

This would comprise financial backing for their proposed judicial review (JR) of the government’s consultation on legal aid reforms, in the event that a strategy of pursuing mediation proved unsuccessful. The Society has offered to meet the costs of that mediation.

In a joint statement, the bodies welcomed Chancery Lane’s ‘overwhelming backing’ for criminal practitioners. 

They said: ‘Everyone is aware that practitioners have contributed generously to the JR fighting fund and have been doing so since April. Donations have been received not only from crime practitioners, but also non-crime firms, from the independent bar and barristers’ chambers.  The associations are grateful to them all.

‘The [Law Society] council, of course, consists of solicitors from all walks of the profession and from all areas of the country.

‘The number of crime practitioners on council is very limited, which makes it all the more significant that by reaching the decision it has, council has given its overwhelming backing to criminal practitioners and the symbolism of this should not be overlooked.’ 

They added: ‘Council has clearly indicated that it will support members of the profession in times of need and that it will not bow to pressure from a government department threatening to withdraw all contact if financial support is given.
The associations are taking advice on the generous offer of assistance.’