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High Court rules criminal legal aid reform illegal

In London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v The Lord Chancellor [2014] EWHC 3020 (Admin) Mr Justice Burnett held that the Lord Chancellor'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’.  The decision came after the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’  Association launched a judicial review against the Lord Chancellor's decision to limit the number of duty solicitor contracts to 525.  Mr Justice Burnett quashed the decision and advised that there should be a reconsultation of the profession.  

The claimants argued that the Ministry of Justice had held back reports- from KPMG and Otterburn Consulting - ­until the end of the consultation, preventing criminal solicitors from having a chance to comment on them.   The reports raised concerns over the feasibility and pace of the proposed reforms.

The Claimants' challenge to a 8.75% fee cut  introduced by the Ministry of Justice in March 2014 (the first of two proposed cuts) was disallowed.

A full copy of the judgment can be found here


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