A new government consultation proposes to introduce price competitive tendering (PCT) for criminal legal aid. The Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, warned that the changes would undermine the tradition that clients can choose which lawyer represents them in court. This could impact on the quality of representation available in criminal cases.
Foreign nationals are to be denied the right to obtain legal aid for civil cases until they have lived in Britain for at least a year, under proposals released by the government last week. The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling said he hoped the changes would ensure that illegal immigrants, failed asylum seekers and people on tourist or student visas would no longer be able to apply for legal aid for civil cases.
The Law Society's diversity access scheme is now open for applications. The scheme "offers assistance with Legal Practice Course (LPC) fees to exceptional individuals who face or have overcome exceptional obstacles to qualify as a solicitor.
From April 1, Cross Street Law Centre will no longer offer drop in advice to people who have benefits, debt, housing or employment issues, whilst dramatic funding cuts force Camden Community Law Centre to axe two thirds of its staff this week.
In preparation for the lifting of immigration limits on those coming from Romania and Bulgaria, David Cameron has said he wants a 'common sense test' to ensure taxpayers money isn't spent on legally aided immigration cases.