The process of restoration of the UK economy after the crisis was slow, in some sectors the country still has not recovered. ‘In times of unprecedented financial problems the legal sector cannot be excluded from of the government’s plans, the taxpayers’ money should be used wisely’, –a governmental representative Chris Grayling explains. ‘We believe that this policy should be reflected in the amounts that are paid to lawyers. Qualified specialists will be available as earlier, as of now the contracts will be signed only with those who meet the standards of the profession. The wealthy defendants who can pay their own bills for legal advice and representation should do it. Our project [cutbacks] aims to allocate taxpayers’ money wisely and in no way affect someone’s rights for a fair trial’.
‘We spend two billion pounds annually, and we have one of the most expensive systems of legal protection in the world, even after the reform, it will remain very generous’, ministry spokesperson says. ‘The latest figures state that more than 1,200 barristers worked in tax-covered sector and received 100,000 pounds (about $160,000) per year in the form of fees, six barristers received more than 500,000 pounds each. We absolutely agree that lawyers should be fairly paid for their work, and are confident that our proposals directed just at it’.
Lawyers, however, do not agree neither with the above numbers nor with optimistic forecasts. This is the third strike this year, though the previous year was not marked with tranquility and silence. The idea of legal aid cutbacks came from the Ministry of Justice in April 2013, and that summer, the lawyers went on strike. In January 2014, they again went to the building of the Ministry with the posters. Such shares were held not only in London but also in other major cities in England and Wales. In court, the Old Bailey (London’s main criminal court), the jury retired to ponder verdict in the case of terrorism, leaving behind an empty room, because of the protests, except judges, no one appeared. Judge Gerald Gordon shrugged sheepishly before surprising the jury: ‘As you can see, I am now in splendid isolation’. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers reported a massive abstention in the courts of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Winchester, and other cities, lawyers refused to work for an hourly fee below the minimum wage in the country (in terms of time).
On March 7, another protest was held, in which, as in previous ones, attended by lawyers working in the field of criminal law. However, on March 31 and April, 1 no strike was active since an agreement with the Ministry of Justice was achieved. Grayling agreed to postpone the adoption of the most ambitious measures relating barristers, until 2015, when the figures are likely to be revised, but until 2018-2019 the program is expected program to be fully implemented with a reduction of appropriations by 215 million pounds.
In the meantime, despite the protests, phenomenal cases occur. Therefore, such companies manage to grow: thus, Forster Dean Solicitors, a noteworthy UK no win no fee agency, has managed to enlarge its network despite the stagnation in the industry and replenished its list of services with motoring solicitors (also known as drink driving solicitors).