Legal aid cuts will stop people in Wearside from getting justice, claims a Sunderland solicitor.
Michael Robinson has hit out at a Government shake-up to cut the £2billion budget of what it calls “one of the world’s most expensive legal systems”, by slashing fees paid to barristers and lawyers.
Critics say the plans, due to be phased in from next month, will drive many out of the profession and leave defendants without expert lawyers to argue their cases.
Earlier this month, solicitors boycotted Sunderland Magistrates’ Court in protest.
Mr Robinson said: “People who don’t qualify for legal aid will have to either plead guilty to save money, or fund their own defence.
“If acquitted, those who fund their own defence will not be fully remunerated. Why should anyone have to pay to establish their innocence?
Legal aid spend, if it is too high, is so because of legislation, sentencing policy, policing policy and strategy. The Government blames lawyers, suggesting legal aid funds fat-cat lifestyles, masking its true intent. They don’t want people to challenge the State. It wants people to take a pragmatic, financial view and plead guilty.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 22 March 2014