Solicitors have threatened the Authorities with authorized motion in a row over charges.
The Regulation Society of England and Wales stated it has known as on the Justice Secretary to rethink the charges felony defence solicitors obtain for authorized support work, or face a judicial overview.
A pre-action authorized letter despatched to the Authorities is difficult its resolution as “illegal and irrational”, the physique which represents solicitors stated on Wednesday.
It comes after the Regulation Society final yr accused Dominic Raab of imposing a “actual phrases” pay reduce on solicitors, warning this might result in “chaos” within the justice system, with attorneys quitting and corporations pressured to shut down.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated in November that it was giving solicitors the “largest increase to their pay in many years”, amounting to an general 11% rise in authorized support charges at a value of £85 million a yr.
However the Society claimed Mr Raab had “fully rejected” the recommendation of the Authorities’s personal impartial overview into the authorized support system, which advisable a direct 15% fee rise.
Within the wake of strikes by felony barristers, the physique warned that the Authorities’s resolution might see solicitors additionally resorting to “disruptive techniques” and stated it’s contemplating a authorized problem to the plan.
Regulation Society president Lubna Shuja stated: “We argue the Lord Chancellor’s resolution to not remunerate solicitors by the naked minimal 15%, which the impartial overview stated was wanted instantly over a yr in the past to forestall the collapse of the felony defence sector, is illegal, as is the choice to not take motion to handle the danger of native market failure.
“We’re searching for a dedication by the Authorities to withdraw each selections and rethink them inside a mutually agreed timetable. If not, we’ll subject a judicial overview searching for an order to quash them.
“We argue each selections are irrational and inconsistent with the constitutional proper of entry to justice.”
Authorities officers have pressured that, regardless that the general share rise is decrease for solicitors, they are going to obtain double the cash offered to barristers who got a 15% rise (£43 million). However the Regulation Society stated this was as a result of there are extra solicitors.
In findings printed in 2021, the now Lord Christopher Bellamy KC advisable growing felony authorized support funding – which pays for illustration throughout police investigations and in court docket for suspects who can’t afford their very own – by “at the very least 15%” for solicitors and barristers as quickly as potential.
His report warned that the sum was the “minimal needed as step one in nursing the system of felony authorized support again to well being after years of neglect”.
“I don’t see that sum as ‘a gap bid’ however somewhat what is required, as quickly as practicable, to allow … the entire felony justice system to perform successfully, to answer forecast elevated demand, and to cut back the backlog.”
He added: “I in no way exclude that additional sums could also be needed sooner or later to satisfy these public curiosity targets. There may be, in my opinion, no scope for additional delay.”
An MoJ spokeswoman stated: “We count on our reforms to felony authorized support will enhance funding within the solicitor career by £85 million yearly, together with a payment enhance of over 15% for solicitors’ work in police stations and magistrates courts.
“It could be inappropriate to remark additional forward of our response to the Regulation Society’s letter.”