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NI lawyers in legal aid protest

28th May 2015

legal aid

Barristers in Northern Ireland have taken the decision to refuse all new criminal cases that require legal aid in a protest against new rulings that have come into force. The rules, which came into effect this month, reduce the level of payments to an amount that is being described as ‘unjustified’.

Those in UK legal recruitment will already be aware of the previously planned cuts to legal aid payment, of which the Criminal Bar Association said it was “committed to providing the highest standard of representation,” but that those standards “cannot be achieved under these amended rules” as reported here.

The news follows previous concerns over legal aid, where it was reported in this article, that solicitors had to step in to fill the legal aid void left by government cuts to the sector.

While barristers in Northern Ireland will continue with legal aid cases that they took on before the new rules came into force, they are not taking on any new cases, despite Stormont Justice Minister David Ford saying that his new legal aid rules are essential and fair.

As the battle continues, it was announced last week that the Law Society and bar council are taking the justice minister to court in an attempt to overturn the new rulings.

Image Credit: Harry (Howard) Potts (flickr.com)