Exchange Chambers reiterates its support for Law Society, CLSA and LCCSA

February 18, 2015

Exchange Chambers has reiterated its support for the Law Society and practitioner groups the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA) after a last-ditch challenge to the Lord Chancellor’s legal aid reforms was thrown out by the High Court this morning.

Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston heard challenges last month to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s decision to press ahead with two-tier contracts for criminal legal aid.

Laws LJ refused leave to appeal but an injunction of the tender process will continue until 4pm next Friday pending an application to the full court.

The Law Society and the practitioner groups are seeking an appeal.

Tom Handley, Director of Chambers at Exchange Chambers said:

“Although we are extremely disappointed with this morning’s judgment, we continue to actively support the Law Society, CLSA and LCCSA in their fight to preserve the principles of access to justice and equality before the law.”

Law Society President Andrew Caplen said:

“If the government’s plans proceed, large areas of the country could be left without legal representation, which is why we are applying for permission to appeal the decision.

“We will continue to campaign for an effective, publicly funded defence system to prevent the risk of a sharp increase in miscarriages of justice.”

Publicly funded criminal legal aid work is currently carried out under contract with the Legal Aid Agency. Under the lord chancellor’s plans, there will be two types of contract – own-client work and duty provider work.

On 27 November 2014 the government commenced a tender process for 527 duty provider work contracts, under which successful bidders would be contracted to provide a share of advice and assistance in police stations in a particular area.

The tender process was suspended in December pending the outcome of the JR, following an application for interim relief by the CLSA and LCCSA.