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 Post subject: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:37 pm 
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Thousands of criminal case lawyers are not attending courts in a number of cities in England and Wales, in protest at planned cuts of £220m to legal aid.

The Criminal Bar Association said the unprecedented action came with anger at "boiling point".

Lawyers argue the cuts could see their fees fall by up to 30% and reduce the representation available to defendants.

The Ministry of Justice said efficiencies were necessary to ensure legal aid remained "sustainable".

Justice minister Shailesh Vara said: "We are living in difficult economic times and lawyers are not immune from the economic climate."

'Minimum wage'

Legal aid costs taxpayers about £2bn every year - half goes on criminal defence and the rest on civil cases. Government proposals, being phased in from April, to cut that by £220m include cutting fees in complex, high-cost cases by 30%, and in other crown court work by up to 18%.

The Treasury Counsel, an elite group of barristers appointed by the attorney general to prosecute the most serious crimes, the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, and the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, have all criticised the plans.

The Criminal Bar Association said there was a mass "non-attendance" at courts on Monday in cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff. The main focus of the protest is at Southwark Crown Court, in London.

Lawyers said they were "not prepared to work at hourly rates lower than the national minimum wage".

The association said legal aid cuts had caused a recent complex fraud trial to be put in jeopardy because 17 sets of chambers had declined to accept the case for four of the eight defendants.

Association chairman Nigel Lithman QC said: "A line has to be drawn in the sand before it's too late. The cuts pose the most serious threat to the British legal system in more than 400 years.

"The government says it is tough on crime, but is stripping the criminal justice system of anyone able to adequately prosecute serious criminals or defend those falsely accused.

"We merely seek a pay freeze. What could be more reasonable than that? I have offered to engage with the lord chancellor as to how to make savings across the system."

The Criminal Bar Association said the action would not jeopardise trials, but warned that if the pay dispute was not resolved, trials due to start after April, including those for murder and rape, could be put at risk.

'Sustainable'

At the Old Bailey, a jury was sent out to consider its verdict in a terrorism trial in front of empty court, due to the protest. Among those missing from their usual places in the empty well of the court were the two prosecution barristers as well as the defence barristers and solicitors for the two defendants.

Judge Gerald Gordon told the jury in court 16 of the Old Bailey: "You can see the rather lonely position I am in."

Shailesh Vara MP: "Lawyers are not immune from the economic climate"
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "At around £2bn a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world, and it would remain very generous even after reform.

"Latest figures show more than 1,200 barristers judged to be working full time on taxpayer-funded criminal work received £100,000 each in fee income last year, with six barristers receiving more than £500,000 each.

"We entirely agree lawyers should be paid fairly for their work, and believe our proposals do just that.

"We also agree legal aid is a vital part of our justice system; that's why we have to find efficiencies to ensure it remains sustainable and available to those most in need of a lawyer."

Lawyers dispute the figures on fee income.

The shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the "unprecedented action" showed relations between the legal profession and David Cameron's government "have collapsed as a result of policies which could restrict access to our courts to only those who can afford it".


Heard something about this on the radio this morning and there seems to be a lot of dispute over the average earnings by lawyers who represent people who use legal aid. A more suitable way of reducing the cost of legal aid would be reforming the laws of who is entitled to it as you get ridiculous cases where million footballers can claim legal aid when disputing driving bans and the like or capping the fees so it's those at the top end who earn higher fees feel most of the pinch.

With the government today suggesting another £25bn of cuts need to be found in the coming years it seems these strikes are going to become even more frequent as they put the squeeze on the public purse strings.


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 Post subject: Re: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:49 am 
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JSP wrote:
Heard something about this on the radio this morning and there seems to be a lot of dispute over the average earnings by lawyers who represent people who use legal aid. A more suitable way of reducing the cost of legal aid would be reforming the laws of who is entitled to it as you get ridiculous cases where million footballers can claim legal aid when disputing driving bans and the like or capping the fees so it's those at the top end who earn higher fees feel most of the pinch.

With the government today suggesting another £25bn of cuts need to be found in the coming years it seems these strikes are going to become even more frequent as they put the squeeze on the public purse strings.


It's a sad state of affairs imo. Not sure about millionaires claiming it, there are strict rules EG you have to be on a low income and not have much in savings, and people receiving it are often asked to contribute towards it too. Also, for the past few years AFAIK the only people who definitely qualify are people at direct risk of going to prison and cases involving children EG people fighting for contact/residency. Other recent rule changes stop absent parents on low incomes using legal aid to fight to get/see their kid unless that child is in danger, so if the parent with the child isn't a nutter there is nothing the other parent can do. Disgraceful imo, seems we only have a legal right to representation so long as you can pay for it.

Don't think a pay cut for the legal profession is a necessarily a bad thing, they arguably earn far too much as it is compared to most people, it's just a pity it'll no doubt mean less help for the ordinary, vulnerable people that need it most. As always.

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 Post subject: Re: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:17 am 
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conscience wrote:
It's a sad state of affairs imo. Not sure about millionaires claiming it, there are strict rules EG you have to be on a low income and not have much in savings, and people receiving it are often asked to contribute towards it too. Also, for the past few years AFAIK the only people who definitely qualify are people at direct risk of going to prison and cases involving children EG people fighting for contact/residency. Other recent rule changes stop absent parents on low incomes using legal aid to fight to get/see their kid unless that child is in danger, so if the parent with the child isn't a nutter there is nothing the other parent can do. Disgraceful imo, seems we only have a legal right to representation so long as you can pay for it.

Don't think a pay cut for the legal profession is a necessarily a bad thing, they arguably earn far too much as it is compared to most people, it's just a pity it'll no doubt mean less help for the ordinary, vulnerable people that need it most. As always.

It's a Tory government, firstrly their friends in the law community will not be suffering pay cuts, I fully expect fees to those not able to claim legal aid will increase to cover the "loss", secondly, the ordinary, vulnerable people are so low on the agenda of the Tory manifesto it is not shocking in the slightest to see this kind of action put in place.

This Government is really grinding my gears, the Liberal's are having zero effect on the tiller and allowing Tory policy to run riot.

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 Post subject: Re: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:30 am 
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It will be the people at the bottom who are made to suffer the sort of lawyers I'm guessing who the tories are mates with are doing private cases earning huge sums of the money the sort of people who take legal aid cases are more likely to be people who are just starting out in their career and are looking to build their reputation.

The tory government is all about cuts and while there isn't necessarily a problem with that for me you trim the fat from the top and not from the bottom and number 1 priority has to be shutting down these crazy tax loopholes that allow rich people who can afford expensive accountants to avoid paying their fair share in tax.

If the Labour party had a more charasmatic leader who the average person on the street could identify with they'd walk the next election but the fact is they don't.

One thing I never really understood is how basically every country in the world gets away with living on the never never everyone is running at deficit and have been for so long that it's basically becoming pointless even keeping count. I mean who do they actually owe this money to? As it's never getting paid back.


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 Post subject: Re: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:49 am 
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35% of our debt is owed overseas. The majority of it is owed to insurance companies and pension funds

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 Post subject: Re: Lawyers striker over Legal Aid Reforms
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:59 pm 
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JSP wrote:
It will be the people at the bottom who are made to suffer...

The tory government is all about cuts and while there isn't necessarily a problem with that for me you trim the fat from the top and not from the bottom and number 1 priority has to be shutting down these crazy tax loopholes that allow rich people who can afford expensive accountants to avoid paying their fair share in tax.

If the Labour party had a more charasmatic leader who the average person on the street could identify with they'd walk the next election but the fact is they don't.

One thing I never really understood is how basically every country in the world gets away with living on the never never everyone is running at deficit and have been for so long that it's basically becoming pointless even keeping count. I mean who do they actually owe this money to? As it's never getting paid back.


Ain't that the truth.

The tax situation is ridiculous EG Amazon, in 2012 they paid just £3.2m in UK tax last year, after declaring that they only made £7.7m in profit, according to accounts filed at Companies House on 15th May. Its turnover for the year to 31st December 2012 was put at £320m... and they said it with a straight face even though their profits and turnover figures represented year-on-year rises, with profit up over 500% and turnover up 54%. However, according to regulatory filings to US investors reported by the Guardian, revealing Amazon's UK revenues in 2012 were actually a staggering £4.2bn! In fact the total corporation tax Amazon has paid in the UK in the last decade has mounted to just £6m. And they're all at it, all the wealthy people and the big corporations the UK should be rolling in cash not broke. It's highway robbery as it is.

Labour might do more for the little guy, but half the Tory plans were Labour plans just a few short years ago, there's so little difference between them it's a waste of time pretending that we have any choice at all. They both take bankers/oil money in bribes to do what big banks and business wants so what's the difference I say. They're peas in a corrupt pod.

Many people would be gobsmacked by the actual details. Governments tend to issue paper debt, certificates etc. that are bought up by anyone who wants to be the UK's loan shark, usually banks, financial institutions, other countries but it could be anyone. Much of the 'cash' comes from the US Federal Reserve, which depsite the name is a privately owned, for-profit bank. When they lend money, they literally create a debt out of thin air, 'transfer the balance' which is nothing more than simply changing some numbers on a screen, then they add that debt onto their own balance books as cash owed as a debt. The more they lend, the more cash they create out of thin air. And the worst part? Every penny borrowed is legally to be paid back by tax payers, you and I and other ordinary people but not the wealthy. No wonder they don't care how much they borrow if they aren't the ones paying it back, it's like toy money to them. There's a very clear video about how it all works which some of you may be interested in called 'Money as Debt' which is on Youtube, it's fairly long at an hour but it tells the history of how it came to be the way it is today. I've only seen the first version, but I just found an updated version 2:



I agree we've no chance of paying it all back, and until it's paid back it gives the ones with the cash all the control over what happens EG they call in a loan or stop lending us cash and services like what we've discussed get cut. It's got so bad in certain other countries EG South America, due to being owed large amounts of cash, corporations and banks have taken ownership of water and other utilities and priced it so high that not everyone can afford it anymore just for profit, they've closed schools to save a few quid and enable the government to repay more interest etc. Shocking stuff. Third world debt practises are now first world practises, maybe we shouldn't have look the other way when it happened to them...

It's hard to believe how they get away with it imo, we shouldn't let 'em.

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