The Law Society Council today reaffirmed its vow to continue opposing cuts that it said will risk the livelihoods of criminal solicitors and jeopardise the quality of criminal defence in England and Wales.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck (pictured) addressed a council meeting following the passing of a motion of no confidence over the Society’s strategy of engagement with the lord chancellor to influence the government’s proposals for criminal legal aid.
Fluck said: ‘The Society lost the vote by the margin of 228 to 213. We have listened closely to our criminal legal aid members and are clear that we mustn’t waste a single day, between now and when the lord chancellor makes his final decision. We must press him for more changes for the sake of access to justice, our members and the clients who depend on them.
‘We must increase our engagement with members at the same time as putting maximum pressure on the government so that the lord chancellor can be in no doubt of the damage his proposals will cause.
‘Council committed to doing just that. There is still time to secure further concessions from government. Our immediate priority is to continue to influence the Ministry of Justice in our members’ interests. We will continue to make it very clear to the lord chancellor that we remain opposed to cuts.
‘The council insisted that the government reconsider proposals for single fees irrespective of plea, and amend the single national fixed fee for police station work without escape mechanism.
‘There are lessons to be learned from today’s debate and we will reflect on these developments. Ultimately, everyone at today’s SGM is seeking the same outcome in terms of securing a functioning, high-quality criminal justice system with a sustainable body of criminal law solicitors.’