Groups representing legal aid lawyers have formed a new campaign group to oppose fresh cuts in funding.
The National Justice Committee comprises the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, Legal Aid Practitioners Group, Justice Alliance, Criminal Bar Association and circuit leaders.
The Law Society and the Bar Council said they would attend as observers.
The move builds on the action taken by hundreds of solicitors and barristers at the start of the month in protest against cuts to criminal legal aid, and comes ahead of the Ministry of Justice’s response to its ‘Next Steps’ consultation on legal aid, expected within weeks.
A statement announcing the formation of the alliance said last night: ‘This committee notes the devastating effects of legal aid cuts and restrictions in social welfare law, family law and immigration law.
‘This committee opposes all further legal aid cuts and proposals to weaken the ability of the ordinary citizen to challenge unlawful decision-making which will diminish our social fabric by reducing access to justice.’
The groups urged justice secretary Chris Grayling to engage with them before implementing further ‘unnecessary and counter-productive’ cuts.
‘We can provide evidence to prove that the cuts do not equal savings and that the savings sought can be achieved without cuts,’ the committee said.
It is understood that one of the first items on the committee’s agenda is to fix a date for a full day of protest action, when lawyers will attend a ‘training day’ rather than court, following the half-day protest at the start of the month (pictured).
The action is expected to take place at the end of February.
A Law Society spokesperson said: 'We are continuing to have discussions with the organisers of this new group. For now, the Law Society will attend as an observer.'