The High Court has recently ruled that the consultation process that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) coordinated in order to enact huge cuts to criminal legal aid – cutting it by £220 million, was ‘so unfair as to amount to illegality’. Mr Justice Barnett said that the MoJ refused to allow anyone engaged in the process to comment on reports by two firms of accountants (KPMG and Otterburn), which provided the basis for deciding what work would be available to solicitors’ firms.
The ruling is a significant setback for Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, whose plans to cut criminal legal aid are thrown into further doubt, with the verdict revealing the extent to which the government has mismanaged the consultation process, wasting a significant amount of taxpayers money. The verdict also reveals how ideological the planned cuts are, with the government refusing to allow a full and proper, transparent consultation.
For the Guardian article on the issue, please see here – ‘Plans to cut legal aid in doubt after court ruling‘, The Guardian, 19 September.