Croydon courts legal aid walkout hailed as success
A row over legal aid cuts saw Croydon’s courts effectively brought to a standstill as defence teams took part in a nationwide walkout.
Yesterday's came after the Government announced plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220m from the legal aid budget by the financial year 2018 to 2019.
If the plans go ahead legal aid be cut by as much as 30 per cent in the longest and most complex cases.
Robert Hardy-McBride, from Steel and Shamash Solicitors, said: “Ninety-nine per cent of defence solicitors failed to appear at the magistrates’ court.
“Most of the magistrates had difficulties doing any amount of work and I’m very pleased with how it went.
“The dispute isn’t just about wages and income, it is about the justice system which is being dismantled and will be able to be repaired.
“The Government has taken the attitude that we have to destroy legal aid and the justice system in this country.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "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.
“Agencies involved in the criminal justice system will take steps to minimise any upset court disruption could cause for victims and witnesses involved in trials.”
And a spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service says the impact of the walkout was limited.
He says 95 per cent of magistrates' courtrooms which were supposed to be sitting did along with 73 per cent of Crown courtrooms.
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