Over one thousand legal aid lawyers are expected to attend next week’s ‘Justice for Sale’ meeting called to decide a response for the government’s price competitive tendering proposals . According to the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, the gathering will leave courts and police stations across the country on ’emergency cover only’.
The demand for the event was ‘overwhelming’, said group chair Bill Waddington. ‘It reflects the intense devotion of criminal lawyers to justice – and concern at the threat from proposals to hand over legal representation to large legal factories.’ The meeting also reflected practitioners’ ‘anger at the misleading use of figures by the Government when making bogus international comparisons’.
Waddington called the proposals ‘an assault upon small and medium businesses and thousands of their employees’. ‘These businesses have been built up over many years having served their local courts and communities well,’ he said. ‘Whilst the Government favours large corporations who will not have the same commitment, will be motivated solely by profit to process “units” (or what we now call clients) as quickly and cheaply as possible and be subject to huge political pressure unlike our admirably independent feisty private practitioners.’ The CLSA argues that the PCT proposals would ‘change the whole nature of the UK Criminal Justice system by handing the system over to remote huge corporate legal factories run by the likes of G4S, Capita, Tescos and Stobarts (of HGV fame) in place of local community solicitors and the independent Bar’.
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