Barristers set to hold Norwich Crown Court in protest over proposed legal aid cuts
PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 January 2014
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Barristers in Norwich will join legal professionals across the country in a court walkout on Monday in protest against the government’s proposed cuts to legal aid.
The mass “non-attendance” will affect courts across the country with 10am cases not being able to proceed in places like London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff. At Norwich Crown Court lawyers will protest outside.
They say that the cuts will mark the end of a world-revered justice system, taking the already stretched system past breaking point.
Members of the legal profession believe that having made concerted attempts to assist the government in making savings, they simply have no choice left but to make a stand.
Nigel Lithman, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “A line has to be drawn in the sand before it’s too late. The cuts pose the most serious threat to the British legal system in more than 400 years.”
He added: “The government says it is tough on crime, but is stripping the criminal justice system of anyone able to adequately prosecute serious criminals or defend those falsely accused. We merely seek a pay freeze. What could be more reasonable than that? I have offered to engage with the Lord Chancellor as to how to make savings across the system.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “At around £2 billion a year, we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world. Just like many hard-pressed families and businesses – we have no choice but to make savings. Any disruption to court business is unnecessary, and lawyers choosing to do so inconvenience their clients and hard-working taxpayers.”
Barristers taking part in the walkout will be available to appear in court from 2pm on Monday.