Individuals accused of serious offenses could be deprived of a fair trial and sufferers left in limbo when the government doesn’t spend money on the criminal defence industry, the Law Society has advised a government-commissioned review.

Within an comprehensive submission into the Independent Criminal Legal Aid Review, Chancery Lane claims a rising number of criminal legal aid companies are shutting their doors or trying hard to keep talent, although not enough younger attorneys are coming to replace an aging population, particularly on duty solicitor schemes.

The review is advised that 1,050 companies currently hold criminal legal aid contracts and 5% of companies dropped from the market as June 2020. This follows a drop of almost 40% over the previous decade.

The’break even point’ to get a fee-earner — that the charges a company has to generate per matter prior to any gain — is double the majority of the hourly legal aid fee prices.

Several liability lawyer schemes have fewer than seven attorneys – seven being the minimum needed to make sure a different attorney is on duty to get a whole 24 hours weekly.

The Society states:’It could be tempting to believe that there are lots of companies and crime attorneys in the machine today, therefore there’s absolutely no need to be concerned about supply, but in fact we’re standing on a cliff edge. Unless action is taken soon, we’ll find ourselves confronting a situation where complete swathes of the nation possess hardly any – or no – offender lawyers left to signify individuals who could be facing extremely serious charges that may possibly result in imprisonment or other penalties which may have a harmful and long-term effect on their own lives ‘

Suggested recommendations incorporate a different’fee review board’ accountable for setting fees yearly and government-funded training permits to increase the amount of criminal legal help trainees.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce explained:’If defence attorneys aren’t supported today, they won’t be there when justice is required later on, leaving sufferers in limbo along with the accused possibly deprived of a fair trial… The inspection should urge that the government provides the investment required to make sure the long-term sustainability of this industry and needs to do so before it’s too late’

The government has stated it will reply to the review’s findings at the end of the year.

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