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Cuts to Legal Aid in UK Sparks Protest
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Barrister and solicitor protest

Summary: The UK government is attempting to save money by cutting fees to solicitors, but many fear this will only undermine and hurt the legal system.

The Ministry of Justice plans to cut the pay for legal aid, believing in an overcapacity from lowering crime rates that can allow for law firms to consolidate. The cuts are to take place on July 1st unless the justice secretary, Michael Gove, and the government reconsider.


Solicitors and barristers are boycotting all new cases that are paid at legal aid rates. The fee, which was cut last year as well, is being cut by 8.75 percent to the duty solicitors that attend magistrates courts and police stations. There have been no increases to the legal aid fees since 1992. Solicitors are concerned that the cuts will force many law firms to close, reducing the availability and quality of legal representation. Gove decided to forgo cuts to barristers fees.

Meetings all across the UK in Bradford, Dewsbury, Devon, Huddersfield, Liverpool, Leeds, London, Macclesfield, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading, Teesside, and in many other cities of solicitors and barristers have built up a backing for the protest. They refuse to describe the action as a strike but the protest could ultimately shut down the courts. Lawyers will still work for private clients but refuse to take on any legal aid cases.

The London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association, the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, and the Big Firms Group formally support the direct action. The Criminal Bar Association will be meeting to decide on its position.

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Previous protests have only lasted for a single day.




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