Criminal lawyers in frank discussion with Lord Chancellor

Criminal legal aid lawyers last night took the opportunity to spell out face-to-face with Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling their opposition to the Government’s proposals for price competitive tendering (PCT).
Last night’s event was the first of two meetings secured by the Law Society for its members.
The meeting, which took place in Westminster, brought together criminal lawyers from across England and Wales and from different sized firms and representative groups to put their case to Grayling.
Richard Atkinson, Chair of Law Society Criminal Law Committee, confronted the Lord Chancellor over client choice, calling it “an essential element of the criminal justice system”.
Concerns were also raised over the feasibility of the proposals. Several practitioners argued that there would be a race to the bottom, and inevitable reduction in the quality of legal services, as well as pointing to problems with the size of the suggested contract areas and the proposed time frame.
Present at the meeting were, among others, Rachel Bentley, who started the Save UK Justice petition, Akhtar Ahmad of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association (LCCSA), and Bill Waddington, James Subbiani and Rodney Warren of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association (CLSA).
Following the impassioned encounter, Lord Chancellor stressed that while he couldn’t alter the “bigger picture” and the need to make savings, the consultation was “not set in stone” and he was “always open to dialogue and sensible solutions”.
Local law societies will meet Lord Chancellor at a second meeting on Monday.
16 May 2013

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