The UK government’s refusal to hike criminal solicitor’s legal aid fees by 15 per cent means it is “highly unlikely” those lawyers coming into the job will be able to make a “reasonable” income from their work, the Law Society has warned.
Law Society president Lubna Shuja said justice secretary Dominic Raab’s refusal to increase criminal solicitors’ legal aid fees by the 15 per cent rates recommended in the Bellamy report puts the future of the profession in “serious peril”.
She warned the “reckless decision” not to hike criminal lawyers’ fees by 15 per cent also puts solicitors’ own futures in jeopardy.
“It is highly unlikely that you will be able to generate a reasonable professional income from this work,” Shuja warned.
The warning comes after the UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ) invested £21m into increasing the legal aid fees paid out to criminal defence solicitors by average rates of 11 per cent.
The pay hikes come after an independent report by Lord Bellamy warned a 15 per cent hike is the minimum needed to nurse the criminal justice system back to health after “years’ of neglect”.
In October, the MoJ agreed to increase fees paid to criminal defence barristers by 15 per cent, after Criminal Bar Association (CBA) launched a strike calling for a 25 per cent hike.
“Until the government chooses to address the crisis in the criminal justice system, victims will continue to be let down, court delays will increase and talk of being tough on crime will be nothing but empty words,” Shuja said.