Rethink on legal aid rate change

Plans to revise legal aid rates for child care cases are to be reviewed after lawyers warned that the number of solicitors taking on the work could fall further.

Constitutional affairs minister Vera Baird has been given a rough ride by lawyers in meetings on the proposals to control the legal aid bill.

The Association of Lawyers for Children said proposed rates for child care lawyers would halve solicitors’ incomes, sending many out of practice at a time when capacity was declining. The proposals have also been criticised by guardians’ body Nagalro.

A Department for Constitutional Affairs spokesperson said the government would not compromise on the proposed overall bill for legal aid, but it was inviting lawyers’ leaders to come up with different ways to divide it between types of case.

The association said the number of firms with legal aid contracts for family law had fallen from 4,593 to 2,784 since 2001.

Joint chair Caroline Little said solicitors representing children were “already significantly underpaid for the volume and nature of work they undertake”.

Additional reading
Legal Aid: A Sustainable Future

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