Join the fight to save the criminal justice system

The government has failed defendants, victims and witnesses, warns the Law Society of England and Wales as it steps up its campaign to save the criminal justice system.

In a recently published call to action, Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce rallies the legal community to “join the fight” and respond to the UK government’s consultation on legal aid in criminal.

“The government has failed the justice system and failed victims, defendants and witnesses,” she said.

“We need the legal community to come together now and speak with one voice if we are to avoid catastrophe.

“The criminal justice system has been brought to its knees across England and Wales.

“Victims, defendants and witnesses suffer the consequences while hard-working lawyers are driven out of the industry en masse by economic reality.”

In the video, the President of the Law Society explains how it appeared the UK government had finally answered the call for the first significant increase in funding for criminal legal aid lawyers in 25 years.

But it soon became clear that what the government was offering was well below the minimum recommended 15% increase in fees – just 9% – although criminal defense lawyers were needed more than ever with a huge backlog of criminal cases and more police recruited. .

The number of criminal legal aid businesses has nearly halved in the past 15 years because the work is no longer financially viable.*

Our research shows that duty counsel – who provide a vital public service, visiting police stations at all hours of the day and night for incredibly low rates of pay – are becoming increasingly rare in some parts of the world. country.**

Duty counsel Kelly Thomas explains that criminal defense attorneys continue to do the work because of their “passion and pursuit of justice” but “watch the justice system erode around them.”

The heavy workload, low pay rates and work-life balance mean few young lawyers see the profession as an attractive option.

Stephen Davies, who is one of only 4% of duty counsel under the age of 35, said “the next generation doesn’t or won’t do this” causing the “profession to head towards extinction”.

Why is this important?

“We are coming to a position where there will be no more checks on the power of the state to arrest, detain and try a person, who may be innocent,” said Joe Mensah-Dankwah, lawyer for the experienced criminal defense.

Notes to Editors

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body working globally to support and represent lawyers, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100