Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

Email  Twitter

Court of Appeal overturns fraud trial legal aid ruling

On 21st May the Court of Appeal in England and Wales quashed the decision to halt a multimillion pound fraud trial after the defendants argued they could not get a fair trial because of cuts to legal aid. 

The earlier ruling halting the trial was made on 1st May at London’s Southwark Crown Court after the Prime Minister’s brother, Alex Cameron QC, successfully argued that the case could not proceed because controversial Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reforms meant the five defendants could not find suitably competent barristers.  The MoJ has cut legal aid fees for such cases by 30% for both solicitors and barristers.

The ruling highlights the continuing bitter dispute between the legal profession and the MoJ on legal aid cuts.  Announcing the decision of the Court, Judge Sir Brian Leveson, stated:

‘It is of fundamental importance that the MoJ led by the Lord Chancellor and the profession continue to try and resolve the impasse that presently stands in the way of delivery of justice in the most complex of cases: this will require effort by both sides.’

The Crown Court’s decision of 1st May can be found here.

To read the Criminal Bar Association’s response to the judgment click here.

Alternatively The Guardian’s article can be found here.

In a very recent development on the issue of legal aid cuts, the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA) and the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA), issued judicial review proceedings on 27th May challenging the MoJ’s decision to press ahead with the cuts.  The lawyer groups claim that the consultation that preceded the cuts was conducted unlawfully.  For further information please click here.

Legal Aid