YLAL has engaged with the Ministry of Justice ('MoJ') Criminal Legal Aid Review ('CLAR') throughout the consultation process and has now responded to the consultation on the Accelerated Areas for criminal legal aid review.
You can read our response below.
CLAR was announced in December 2018, and was intended to be a holistic review of the criminal legal aid system in England and Wales. Delayed first by the general election and then by the COVID-19 pandemic, CLAR was originally due to conclude and report back by the Summer of 2020.
YLAL is pleased that the MoJ have recognised the impending crisis facing the criminal legal aid sector, and recognise that the five Accelerated Areas are an interim measure.
However, YLAL does not believe that the current proposals go far enough to mitigate against the harm caused to practitioners by the decades of cuts that have slowly but surely decimated the future of the profession and access to justice.
YLAL implores the MoJ to protect the future of the criminal defence profession and promote social mobility and diversity by ensuring that rates of remuneration are such that those without third-party financial support are able to practise in this vital area of law. Without urgent action there may not be a profession left to save.
As one of our members stated:
"The criminal justice system will fall apart without significant investment. There will be significant miscarriages of justice as the talent continues to drain away from the profession and the older generation retire. The current remuneration is simply not sustainable."
YLAL is grateful to our member volunteers who gave up their time to assist with the drafting of this response, including: Kseniya Davidson, Claire Hall, Sally Onyekwere and Sammy Warner.
YLAL also thanks its committee members who contributed to this submission, including: Katie McFadden, Lucie Boase, Oliver Persey, Oliver Carter, Emily McFadden, Anna Renou, Anna Jemmison, Bartholomew Dalton, Audrey Cherryl Mogan and Faith Rowan.