This relates to those in the asylum system as these firms will be handling cases where people have offences relating to passports etc. that take them to the criminal court. How soon before they provide immigration legal aid as well?
Please ask your MP to sign:
Early Day Motion 139: Choice Of Legal Aid Lawyer
That this House notes the proposed changes to criminal legal aid; is concerned at the removal of the option for the client to make a choice between different solicitors; and calls on the Government to review its proposals to reintroduce a choice for the client.
Sponsors: Hemming, John/ Bottomley, Peter
House of Commons: 20.05.2013
On Tuesday 21 May, a protest against the legal aid cuts took place outside of the Manchester Crown Court. Over 300 Lawyers and barristers protested their anger at what they saw as an attack on the legal system, marching down to the Place Hotel where Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and others were holding a conference.
Photograph: Keith Dewsnup
The Ministry of Justice issued on 9 April a consultation paper entitled ‘Transforming Legal Aid’. The proposals would make prisoners and immigrants who have been in the country for less than one year no longer eligible for legal aid.
Barrister and speaker at the event Robert Lizar said, “Chis Grayling proposes that they are ‘transforming legal aid’. This transforms legal aid the same way abattoirs transforms a cow.” He went on to state “You cannot have a system of justice unless it is open to all.”
The ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ plans also include proposals to remove of the ability for a defendant to choose their own lawyers and remove the principal of competition on quality rather than cost.
Opponents say it aims to reduce the amount of legal aid firms, decimating the sector, while also pushing for massive companies like Serco, G4S, Atos and Eddie Stobart to win legal aid contracts.
Eddie Jones a Clark at Robert Law and protester at the march stated, “The right to chose who represents you is fundamental to democracy.”
Pete Weatherby another speaker at the event and a criminal barrister of 21 years experience said, “There has been 20 years of cuts but this is a game changer”. He added, “These cuts abandons all notion of equality, we have such a high quality justiciable system we should guard it jealously.”
The protest was soon followed by an even larger protest in London the following day as over 500 lawyers rallied outside Parliament.
Article published: Thursday, May 23rd 2013