source: Law Society Gazette
published: 19 September 2014
The lord chancellor acted ‘unlawfully’ in the way he consulted on controversial plans to shake up criminal legal aid, the High Court ruled today.
Mr Justice Burnett said that the ministry’s failure to disclose the findings of two key reports on plans to introduce new dual criminal legal aid contracts was ‘so unfair as to result in illegality’. Quashing the lord chancellor’s decision to limit the number of duty provider contracts to 525 he advised a ‘relatively short’ reconsultation of the profession.
However the first tranche of 8.75% fee cuts, introduced in March, will remain in place. Mr Justice Burnett said the question of contract numbers, if consulted on in the way it should have been, would not have led to a different decision on the phased introduction of criminal legal aid fees.
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