Family lawyers have warned that revised proposals published last week on reforming legal aid have not allayed fears many practices will go bust, because the government refuses to increase resources.
Last week’s plans, now out to consultation, were designed to respond to warnings that the original proposals to replace hourly payments with fixed fees in most cases would make family legal aid uneconomical for many firms.
Resolution, which mainly represents private law practitioners, welcomed the concessions, which include increasing the number of exceptional cases for which lawyers would still be paid hourly rates in both public and private law.
However, David Emmerson, chair of its legal aid taskforce, said: “The difficulty is there’s no more money. And the fixed fee will be more punishing as the years go on as they are not going to go up.”
The Association of Lawyers for Children, which represents many public law practitioners, was still discussing its response as Community Care went to press.
However, joint chair Alistair MacDonald said: “We have never accepted that the starting point [for the debate] is no more money.”
Both MacDonald and Emmerson raised concerns over proposals for different regional fees for cases that reach court, with higher rates for London and the South than in the Midlands, North and Wales.