Law Society takes government to court over solicitors’ legal aid fees
The Law Society is seeking to force the UK government to give criminal solicitors a 15 per cent pay hike by taking the matter to court.
The legal sector trade body is calling on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to give criminal solicitors a pay rise that matches the 15 per cent hike given to criminal barristers last September.
Last November, the UK’s MoJ upped fees paid for work in police station and magistrates’ courts by 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, pledging to invest an extra £85m a year in solicitors’ pay.
This, however, made for an effective pay rise of 11 per cent last November, lower than the 15 per cent that was given to criminal barristers.
The Law Society’s decision to seek permission for a judicial review comes after the government refused to participate in an independent mediation process put forward by the trade body.
Law Society president Lubna Shuja said the government’s failure to take the legal aid crisis “seriously” left it with “no choice” but to file a claim.
She warned the UK government’s refusal to hike solicitors’ fees by 15 per cent “puts the future of the criminal justice system in jeopardy”.
The Law Society’s own analysis signals there will be 19 per cent fewer solicitors working in the legal aid sector by 2025 as many decide to leave the profession due to low levels of pay.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “We expect our reforms to criminal legal aid will increase investment in the solicitor profession by £85 million every year.”