With the green light given to Rights of Women to challenge the current legal aid guidelines for domestic violence victims, another battle rages on, this time with the mantle being carried by the Criminal Law sector. The hearing which also took place last Friday saw lawyers calling for a review of the consultation process which led to the current policy on legal aid (and fee cuts), and this is one battle that just got ugly.
For the scrap this morning is not amongst disgruntled families, or charities like Rights of Women who brought their challenge out of concern for the safety of vulnerable people across Britain, but between the MOJ and the legal sector. Quite simply put, the Ministry of Justice has sent out a clear message that fee cuts for legal aid are not going to make up part of the challenge – but the fairness of the consultation process on legal aid, will.
Legal Cheek chose to focus on the MOJ’s recent tweet on the matter, which whilst we think is a little clumsy, says more about the department’s desire to move away from the legal sector’s financial interest in the outcome of this case, than it does its choice of wording.
Everyone understands that the legal profession needs to earn to survive, and that legal aid does offer a lifeline to people in distress. But to turn this case into a tug of war between a bratty child of the State and the Bank of Chris, is as embarrassing as it is demeaning – to the entire profession.
This case should be about access to justice, protection and the preservation of our rights as a democratic people. And that is all.