03rd July 2013
Ministry of Justice about turn welcomed by Cartwright King
The announcement made by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday that the Ministry of Justice would not insist on the removal of a defendant’s right to choose their lawyer, despite originally announcing that is what it wanted to do, has been welcomed by leading Midlands criminal defence firm Cartwright King.
The proposals formed part of the government's plans to cut over £200m from the annual criminal legal aid budget. The about turn is good news as it is a clear acknowledgement that clients should be able to choose their own lawyer. Choice also drives quality in the market place.
“If cases were allocated randomly there would be no need for providers to be concerned about the quality of advice or service provided.”
said Andy Cash, criminal defence specialist and a director of Cartwright King solicitors.
“Firms like ours have grown by trading on our reputation for providing a first class service. Had this right to choose been removed, then all these efforts would have been a waste of time.”
The decision by Mr Grayling to change track was undoubtedly driven by the response to a government petition against the removal of choice which was signed by over 100,000 people meaning that the issue has to be debated in Parliament. But for that response, the changes would have been carried through without any democratic review or comment and outside the legislative framework.
It remains to be seen what proposals will eventually emerge from the Ministry of Justice. These are expected in September.