Recently a serious fraud trial was dismissed on the grounds that the defendants had been unable to find a barrister willing to represent them due to legal aid cuts. Since then, the Court of Appeal has overturned this decision, saying that it is not impossible that a barrister could be found and further efforts should be made to do so. But what next?
Following the cuts many people will find it much harder to get legal aid funding for their court cases. For those who are unable to represent themselves and who have no-one around to help them do so, the only alternative will be to employ a solicitor for private payment. Now, under the old system, anyone who did this and won the case would have their full costs, including solicitor’s fees, paid by the opposite party to the case. But that’s now changed. Under the new system, even if you win your case, you won’t necessarily get your full solicitor’s fees paid. Instead, the courts will only order the opposition to pay what the costs would have been if you had been represented under legal aid. But since legal aid solicitors generally charge less than privately paid firms, that will leave even those people who are in the right, well out of pocket.
Yet another example of how the legal system in this country is biased against the accused, regardless of any actual finding of guilt.