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Leading barristers warn over legal aid cuts

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Leading barristers warn over legal aid cuts

Post  Panda on Wed 29 May - 8:30

Leading barristers warn over legal aid cuts


Dozens of Britain's leading barristers have warned that reforms of the legal
aid system by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, will “seriously undermine
the rule of law”.









Dozens of Britain's leading
barristers have warned that reforms of the legal aid system by Chris Grayling,
the Justice Secretary, will “seriously undermine the rule of law”. Photo: ALAMY






By David Barrett, Home Affairs
Correspondent

9:30PM BST 28 May 2013


212 Comments




In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 90 QCs
condemn as “unjust” the government’s proposals to restrict the judicial review
process and suggest that “conscientious and dedicated” public law firms will be
driven out of business.


Signatories include Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General;
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former
Director of Public Prosecutions, and Cherie Blair, who practices as a silk and
part-time judge under her maiden name Cherie Booth.


Mr Grayling announced last month that applications for judicial review - the
process by which judges are asked to examine the legality of government
decisions - will only receive legal aid funding once a judge has agreed the case
is strong enough to proceed to a full hearing.


He said it was designed to weed out “weak” cases by forcing lawyers to “stop
and consider” the strength of their application.


Today’s letter demonstrates the strength of concern within the Bar about Mr
Grayling’s proposals, and is also signed by a number of leading silks including
Baroness [Helena] Kennedy, Professor Phillippe Sands and Lord Pannick who, as David Pannick QC, acted
for Debbie Purdy, the assisted dying campaigner, in a
2008 judicial review.



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“We are gravely concerned that practical access to justice is now under
threat,” the letter says.

“The cumulative effect of these proposals will seriously undermine the rule
of law, and Britain’s global reputation for justice.

“They are likely to drive conscientious and dedicated specialist public law
practitioners and firms out of business. They will leave many of society’s most
vulnerable people without access to any specialist legal advice and
representation.”

It adds: “We urge the Government to withdraw these unjust proposals.”

The letter point out that its signatories act both for and against the
government in judicial review cases, and claims that “abuses” by British
officials and agents overseas will now attract “impunity”.

This was thought to be a reference to cases such as the 2004 judicial review
into whether British servicemen breached the human rights of 13 Iraqi civilians
who died in the conflict, including Baha Mousa, a 26 year-old Iraqi man who died
in British forces custody and whose family later received a £2.8 million payout.


The Justice Secretary said last month as he announced the plans: “I’m
concerned that legal aid is being used to fund a number of weak judicial review
cases, which incur costs for, public authorities and the legal aid scheme.”

He added: “Legal aid is not free money - it comes out the pocket of
hard-working taxpayers. I hope this will make lawyers stop and more carefully
consider the strength of any case for a judicial review.”

Last year 845 applications for judicial review - around half of them
immigration cases - received initial public funding before being refused
permission to proceed to a full hearing.

The proposed reforms are part of a wide-ranging package aiming to cut the
£1.7 billion a year legal aid bill.
===============
Of course they would,they make a fortune out of protecting illegals from being deported.!!!

Panda
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