Legal aid tendering: will it actually work?
Joshua Rozenberg in The Guardian: The MoJ’s public consultations on legal aid reforms show they are open-minded, but if the aim remains to reduce spending, what about the cost to justice?
Dr Elizabeth Gibby, head of legal aid policy at the Ministry of Justice, was answering questions at the first in a series of open meetings arranged by the department and advertised, very discreetly, on its website. This one took place at a hotel in Reading and attracted more than 100 lawyers; there are to be another 12 this month around England and Wales.
“We appreciate that the proposals [in Transforming Legal Aid] are causing deep anxiety and concern,” Gibby said, “and people have genuine worries about aspects of the [reform] model. That’s why we genuinely want to hear from people. I know people often think that responding to government consultations is a waste of time. All I would say to you is that we want to hear your views. We want to hear your suggestions.”
Dr Gibby came a ‘bit unstuck’, floundering when asked to point to the section in the consultation paper dealing with the interests of the user:
“I’m sorry; I don’t quite understand what you are saying,” Gibby replied after a pause. (She continued to flounder as Rozenberg relates)
Then it was the turn of Tim Mouseley QC who questioned her on Grayling’s assertion in the consultation:
“Where is the evidence that the public have a lack of confidence in the legal system as it currently is?” the QC asked.
Dr Gibby ‘made it clear that this line had not come from her’.
Mr Rozenberg wrote :“What struck me as I heard Gibby explain all this is that officials really cannot be sure that any of this is going to work.”
Good stuff, Mr Rozenberg. It is good to know that our ‘political masters’ and civil servants are on the ball – not.
Some very useful reading on
A BARRISTER’S WIFE - a behind closed doors view of the justice system. A must read!
Baroness Deech, Inner Temple Bencher, gives speech on the impact of legal aid cuts in the Lords: