Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

24/7 out of office hours domestic violence advice line: 0845 450 1281 (local rates apply)

Latest News

What Price Justice? What Price Competitive Tendering?

The ability of individuals to choose and select their legal representation in accordance with the “freedom of choice” principle ensures the very highest quality is maintained within the criminal justice system. This statement is so obvious that it hardly bears repeating. So why is the Government prepared to sacrifice this by introducing “Price Competitive Tendering” for criminal legal aid work? Effectively they feel able to take such a step because not one member of the Government was ever told by their mother/mentor/father/carer that “the cheapest often becomes the dearest”.

 The proposed plans would see firms effectively ‘bidding’ at auction for a reduced level of work and at a lower fee per case. See what I mean about “cheapest”? Some, such as the Legal Aid Minister, Lord McNally, believe that this is the way forward to achieve the desired savings. But what price justice? What price “aquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty?” The objective of the Ministry of Justice is to make a saving of £220 million from the criminal and civil legal aid budget. The ideal of a saving is a laudable, even appealing one, but not if it affects quality so badly that the ability to maintain longstanding and simple constructs such as wide access to justice is compromised. In practice, the proposals could see up to 75% of criminal legal aid firms “re-aligned”. This not necessarily the answer. Remember what I said about the “cheapest”. It is anticipated that the ‘cost’ of unrepresented defendants is likely to be transferred onto other agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts, thus defeating the object of making significant savings and instead driving down quality in the process. The cheapest often becomes the dearest!

 Those unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of the criminal justice system will be expected to place their faith and trust in what essentially will be ‘conveyer belt solicitors’ operating a ‘production line’ akin to factory workers. Where is the incentive to do a good job? How will the public confidence be maintained? How are standards to be maintained, yet alone continuously raised? Up until now, client choice was the best method of quality control – even the most ardently loyal client would not nominate a solicitor who persistently does a poor job. The reality is that the most vulnerable section of society will be subject to lower standards of legal representation and the chances of attracting budding lawyers to the area of criminal law will fall dramatically – if it hasn’t already done so.

Ultimately, access to justice will be denied if the plans to introduce Price Competitive Tendering succeed, and we can expect to see the collapse of the criminal justice system. Remember what I said about the “cheapest”?

family lawyers milton keynes
NHS Discounts Milton Keynes

Bastian Lloyd Morris LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Registered in England under company no: OC329737.