The Government today announced that it accepts Sir Christopher Bellamy’s central recommendation to invest an additional £135million a year in the criminal legal aid sector. However, practitioners will not see any immediate cash as the Department of Justice insists it must consult for 12 weeks due to the scale of the reform.
Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab said: “We owe our entire legal profession – barristers, barristers, court and judicial staff – a debt of gratitude for turning the wheels of justice over the past two years. That’s why we accept Sir Christopher Bellamy’s recommendation for a fee increase and a total additional investment of £135m to ensure a lawyer is there for those who need it most as we rebuild a society. stronger and fairer after the pandemic.
The details of how the government proposes to distribute the £135million will become clear after the response and consultation document is presented to Parliament this morning.
The department said in a press release that a change would increase the salaries of lawyers representing suspects at police stations by 15% “to combat the perverse incentive that currently encourages lawyers to wait and represent defendants in court. the Crown Courts, because it pays better”.
The proposals “will give more people the opportunity to pursue a career in criminal law, regardless of their background, by funding the training and certification of lawyers and solicitor-attorneys and removing barriers for members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives”.
An advisory council will be set up to help “shape criminal legal aid policy in the future”.
Write in the Gazette, Justice Minister James Cartlidge said the proposals will put criminal legal aid on a sustainable footing for years to come. However, “given the scale of the reform we are proposing and the complexity of the criminal justice system, it is essential that we consult fully and fairly and that we give all interested parties, including those who do not not part of the legal professions, the time to commit”.
The department is also releasing the results of its resource review today. The proposals include free representation for anyone under 18 and legal aid for families in investigations where there has been a potential human rights violation. The financial cap on the eligibility of defendants before the Crown Court will be removed.