The ArgusLawyers stage strike over cuts to legal aid (From The Argus)

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Lawyers stage strike in Sussex over cuts to legal aid

The Argus: Brighton Magistrates' Court Brighton Magistrates' Court

Solicitors and barristers are planning a protest outside court today against cuts to legal aid.

Crown and magistrates’ court solicitors from across Sussex will join colleagues from across the country in a strike against legal aid cuts for criminal defence solicitors and barristers.

It follows an announcement by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling that the Government will be making cuts in criminal legal aid fees of 17.5% on average for solicitors and 6% for barristers.

Some cuts are set to come into effect this month, while solicitors’ reductions are being staggered over a year.


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Meanwhile, estimates suggest the number of duty solicitor contracts will be cut from around 1,600 to just 525.

Sussex-based solicitors have said they fear law firms will be forced to close.

Cerys Sayer, a solicitor with Mulrooney Craghill in Grand Parade, Brighton, will join colleagues outside Brighton Magistrates’ and Crown Court this morning.

She said “miscarriages of justice” could occur if the cuts went ahead.

She added: “Imminent cuts will be so severe that there will be an immediate cull of legal service providers in Sussex, with excellent reputations.

“Those still in business will have to cling on for over a year in the hope that they will be one of a limited number of firms ‘chosen’ to cover new work at the police stations and courts across Sussex before enduring a further cut.

“A recent case demonstrates the dire deficit criminal defence lawyers are already working at.

“A person who had never been in trouble with the law before, who worked for a very modest wage, was charged with an allegation of grievous bodily harm.

“They pleaded not guilty and a trial was listed at Lewes Crown Court. The person was granted legal aid because of his low means and the seriousness of the charge.

“Due to the dedicated commitment of a senior solicitor the prosecution withdrew the case the day before trial, due to lack of evidence. The outcome was the right one. However, the 20 or so hours of work that it took to achieve this was only valued at £731.48, and the case is therefore clearly run at a loss.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “We enjoy an effective relationship with the bar in our work to deliver a quality prosecution service. It is important that prosecutions are not disrupted and we expect any court business listed for March 7 to be prosecuted by the instructed advocate in accordance with their professional obligations. In respect of prosecution work, the CPS Graduated Fee Scheme and Very High Cost Case fee schemes were introduced two years ago and are operating effectively.”

Comments (14)

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8:55am Fri 7 Mar 14

winewomenandsong says...

Must have been cold this morning. I noticed one "brief" outside the court
with his hand in his 'own' pocket!
Must have been cold this morning. I noticed one "brief" outside the court with his hand in his 'own' pocket! winewomenandsong
  • Score: 12

10:11am Fri 7 Mar 14

peterthomas says...

How noble - they are soooo concerned about the levels of service to their clients - nothing to do with them being greedy, immoral and unwilling to work for a penny less??
How noble - they are soooo concerned about the levels of service to their clients - nothing to do with them being greedy, immoral and unwilling to work for a penny less?? peterthomas
  • Score: 1

10:19am Fri 7 Mar 14

Martin999 says...

Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance?
Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance? Martin999
  • Score: 4

10:30am Fri 7 Mar 14

Andy R says...

Oh dear......gullible Argus commentators fall for the propaganda.

Thing is when they need a lawyer, and there isn't one, they'll be the ones practically shattering their windows with the high-pitched whine of "why didn't someone DOOOOO something??"
Oh dear......gullible Argus commentators fall for the propaganda. Thing is when they need a lawyer, and there isn't one, they'll be the ones practically shattering their windows with the high-pitched whine of "why didn't someone DOOOOO something??" Andy R
  • Score: 5

10:38am Fri 7 Mar 14

Durango_Splubb says...

Time to get a tad closer to the real world chaps!

We're a long way off seeing heaps of their wigs in pawn shops & them on the streets selling 'Big Issue'!
Time to get a tad closer to the real world chaps! We're a long way off seeing heaps of their wigs in pawn shops & them on the streets selling 'Big Issue'! Durango_Splubb
  • Score: 7

10:53am Fri 7 Mar 14

Brighton Living says...

“miscarriages of justice” are you joking this is the UK there is NO Justice...... bloody solicitors are like private landlords.
“miscarriages of justice” are you joking this is the UK there is NO Justice...... bloody solicitors are like private landlords. Brighton Living
  • Score: 3

11:09am Fri 7 Mar 14

qm says...

Brighton Living wrote:
“miscarriages of justice” are you joking this is the UK there is NO Justice...... bloody solicitors are like private landlords.
and estate agents, bankers, politicians and second-hand (sorry, pre-loved) car salesmen!
[quote][p][bold]Brighton Living[/bold] wrote: “miscarriages of justice” are you joking this is the UK there is NO Justice...... bloody solicitors are like private landlords.[/p][/quote]and estate agents, bankers, politicians and second-hand (sorry, pre-loved) car salesmen! qm
  • Score: 2

11:10am Fri 7 Mar 14

Goldenwight says...

Martin999 wrote:
Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance?
Lawyers can charge what they like- it is up to you what you wish to pay. However, on legal aid work they are paid a fixed remuneration. Ironically, it is partly because the legal aid rates are so low that private work is more expensive- overheads such as building expenses and staff costs & training still need to be covered by the remuneration of the fee earners.

But if the local solicitors REALLY wanted to cause disruption, why not carry out this action on a Tuesday when the Magistrates' Courts are clogged with new cases rather than a Friday when the Courts are dealing with relistings and final hearings? This would bring the whole system to a standstill and bring far more attention to their situation.
[quote][p][bold]Martin999[/bold] wrote: Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance?[/p][/quote]Lawyers can charge what they like- it is up to you what you wish to pay. However, on legal aid work they are paid a fixed remuneration. Ironically, it is partly because the legal aid rates are so low that private work is more expensive- overheads such as building expenses and staff costs & training still need to be covered by the remuneration of the fee earners. But if the local solicitors REALLY wanted to cause disruption, why not carry out this action on a Tuesday when the Magistrates' Courts are clogged with new cases rather than a Friday when the Courts are dealing with relistings and final hearings? This would bring the whole system to a standstill and bring far more attention to their situation. Goldenwight
  • Score: 8

11:23am Fri 7 Mar 14

BrightonJ says...

Goldenwight wrote:
Martin999 wrote:
Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance?
Lawyers can charge what they like- it is up to you what you wish to pay. However, on legal aid work they are paid a fixed remuneration. Ironically, it is partly because the legal aid rates are so low that private work is more expensive- overheads such as building expenses and staff costs & training still need to be covered by the remuneration of the fee earners.

But if the local solicitors REALLY wanted to cause disruption, why not carry out this action on a Tuesday when the Magistrates' Courts are clogged with new cases rather than a Friday when the Courts are dealing with relistings and final hearings? This would bring the whole system to a standstill and bring far more attention to their situation.
If you were arrested tomorrow for a rape you didn't commit and needed a solicitor but couldn't pay privately, what would you do? You'd ask for the duty solicitor and hope to get legal aid. I dont know why Joe Public thinks thinks criminal lawyers are well paid. The vast majority only earn the national average were they could be paid more to manage a starbucks. There is a massive difference between a criminal legal aid lawyer and a corporate lawyer.

Because today is the day the whole country is striking not just in Brighton. Im sure other Court have their main bail days disrupted today.
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Martin999[/bold] wrote: Oh dear, how sad for them. Solicitors charge between £100 and £500 per hour. A barrister can charge up to £1000 per hour. How on earth are these people supposed to manage on such a pittance?[/p][/quote]Lawyers can charge what they like- it is up to you what you wish to pay. However, on legal aid work they are paid a fixed remuneration. Ironically, it is partly because the legal aid rates are so low that private work is more expensive- overheads such as building expenses and staff costs & training still need to be covered by the remuneration of the fee earners. But if the local solicitors REALLY wanted to cause disruption, why not carry out this action on a Tuesday when the Magistrates' Courts are clogged with new cases rather than a Friday when the Courts are dealing with relistings and final hearings? This would bring the whole system to a standstill and bring far more attention to their situation.[/p][/quote]If you were arrested tomorrow for a rape you didn't commit and needed a solicitor but couldn't pay privately, what would you do? You'd ask for the duty solicitor and hope to get legal aid. I dont know why Joe Public thinks thinks criminal lawyers are well paid. The vast majority only earn the national average were they could be paid more to manage a starbucks. There is a massive difference between a criminal legal aid lawyer and a corporate lawyer. Because today is the day the whole country is striking not just in Brighton. Im sure other Court have their main bail days disrupted today. BrightonJ
  • Score: 9

11:55am Fri 7 Mar 14

Durango_Splubb says...

The jokes about anybody working in the legal profession are traditional!
Multi-millionaire & Tobacco baron Ken Clarke who is heartily ashamed of his communist grandfather and his humble roots in council house in Eltham, S.E. London is current vandalising the whole legal system just as Hunt and Langley before him are vandalising OUR National Health Service along with all the other bullington bully boys. They're wrecking OUR whole country and squeezing every last farthing from the working classes!
The jokes about anybody working in the legal profession are traditional! Multi-millionaire & Tobacco baron Ken Clarke who is heartily ashamed of his communist grandfather and his humble roots in council house in Eltham, S.E. London is current vandalising the whole legal system just as Hunt and Langley before him are vandalising OUR National Health Service along with all the other bullington bully boys. They're wrecking OUR whole country and squeezing every last farthing from the working classes! Durango_Splubb
  • Score: 4

12:52pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Ish1 says...

Anyone who thinks that criminal legal aid lawyers earn a fortune is living in cloud cuckoo land.

I am not a lawyer but have a number of friends who are lawyers and none of them now undertake criminal legal aid work as the pay rates are so low at around £35 per hour gross before one has deducted done's overheads.

I suggest that the critics spend the next five years of their lives qualifying as lawyers and they can then work for the low criminal legal aid rates.
Anyone who thinks that criminal legal aid lawyers earn a fortune is living in cloud cuckoo land. I am not a lawyer but have a number of friends who are lawyers and none of them now undertake criminal legal aid work as the pay rates are so low at around £35 per hour gross before one has deducted done's overheads. I suggest that the critics spend the next five years of their lives qualifying as lawyers and they can then work for the low criminal legal aid rates. Ish1
  • Score: 5

6:20pm Fri 7 Mar 14

leftysmellbags says...

I'm a solicitor and I am really upset that I can no longer milk the Labour free for all. How am I going to keep my kids in private school and maintain my golf club membership whilst buying the latest edition Jag. It just isn't on and for that reason I am striking for the day and I all hope you appreciate it will cost me £2000 taking the day off and some blatantly guilty oink will not have some clever dick who can manipulate the system so that they can get off scot free/community service, which lets face it is the same thing.

This really is not on.
I'm a solicitor and I am really upset that I can no longer milk the Labour free for all. How am I going to keep my kids in private school and maintain my golf club membership whilst buying the latest edition Jag. It just isn't on and for that reason I am striking for the day and I all hope you appreciate it will cost me £2000 taking the day off and some blatantly guilty oink will not have some clever dick who can manipulate the system so that they can get off scot free/community service, which lets face it is the same thing. This really is not on. leftysmellbags
  • Score: 1

7:20pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Nikski says...

Typically dumb comments on here from idiots who haven't read the article or don't understand why the lawyers are striking! The issue here is that a lot of people who might need legal aid won't be able to get it after these cuts meaning that only those who can afford it will get decent legal representation; yet another example of this govt stamping down on the poorer members of society.....don't you think that's a cause for concern and that lawyers should be commended for drawing attention to it?
Typically dumb comments on here from idiots who haven't read the article or don't understand why the lawyers are striking! The issue here is that a lot of people who might need legal aid won't be able to get it after these cuts meaning that only those who can afford it will get decent legal representation; yet another example of this govt stamping down on the poorer members of society.....don't you think that's a cause for concern and that lawyers should be commended for drawing attention to it? Nikski
  • Score: 2

7:35pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Durango_Splubb says...

Nikski says...

Typically dumb comments on here from idiots who haven't read the article or don't understand why the lawyers are striking! The issue here is that a lot of people who might need legal aid won't be able to get it after these cuts meaning that only those who can afford it will get decent legal representation; yet another example of this govt stamping down on the poorer members of society.....don't you think that's a cause for concern and that lawyers should be commended for drawing attention to it?

YES! You're perfectly correct! We should ALL be writing to OUR MPs insisting they block this bit of Ken Multi-Millionaire Clarke's hooliganism that'll mean ordinary people like you and me cannot get legal help!

It's yet more tory systematically dismantling and vandalising of OUR country and it's institutions!
Nikski says... Typically dumb comments on here from idiots who haven't read the article or don't understand why the lawyers are striking! The issue here is that a lot of people who might need legal aid won't be able to get it after these cuts meaning that only those who can afford it will get decent legal representation; yet another example of this govt stamping down on the poorer members of society.....don't you think that's a cause for concern and that lawyers should be commended for drawing attention to it? YES! You're perfectly correct! We should ALL be writing to OUR MPs insisting they block this bit of Ken Multi-Millionaire Clarke's hooliganism that'll mean ordinary people like you and me cannot get legal help! It's yet more tory systematically dismantling and vandalising of OUR country and it's institutions! Durango_Splubb
  • Score: -1

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