17th April 2013
Cartwright King shares concerns of other criminal legal aid practitioners as further restraints to legal aid are proposed
‘The smooth running of a court is dependent upon experienced solicitors representing clients for whom they have previously acted.’
Sir, last week’s Ministry of Justice consultation, Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System proposes the removal of a defendant’s right to the solicitor of his choice (news in brief, April 9, and letter, April 12). The smooth running of a magistrates’ court in particular is heavily dependent upon experienced solicitors representing clients for whom they have previously acted and therefore retain an in-depth knowledge of their circumstances.
There is a high level of trust between solicitor and client whose relationship may go back many years. This means that cases can be brought quickly; appropriate pleas are entered and the role of the defence lawyer is appreciated by the prosecution, court staff and magistrates alike.
To require a defendant to be represented by someone they have never met, as is proposed, will increase defence, prosecution and court costs enormously before a penny is saved.
Managing Partner, Olliers Solicitors, Manchester.