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Bar Council warns House of Lords about legal aid cuts

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has written to Peers to voice its concerns around the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (‘the Bill’), as it receives its Second Reading in the House of Lords.


Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said:


“Despite the warnings of the Bar Council and other concerned organisations, the House of Commons has done little to change the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.


“In the Lords, we will maintain our campaign to highlight the devastating effect that this Bill will have. A key example is the removal of private family law cases, almost in their entirety, from the scope of legal aid. Distressed parents will be left abandoned and will be forced to represent themselves. Courts will become clogged and far from saving money, delays will be greater and both societal and fiscal costs will increase.


“Other proposals also hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Many with valid claims in clinical negligence will be unable to gain legal redress for wrongs caused by others, while those facing problems with debt and benefits will be unable to access vital legal advice and assistance.


“The House of Lords has an important constitutional duty as a revising chamber. We hope that Peers on all sides will persuade the Government to recognise the real consequences of these drastic proposals, so that a realistic Bill can be returned to the Commons. The public interest and the interests of justice demand no less.”