Alex Chalk’s evidence to Monday’s Justice Select Committee will have made difficult viewing for many lawyers on the frontline of our justice system. Whilst an increase in LAA staffing levels is a welcome and positive step, the suggestion that firms are struggling as they haven’t bothered to claim what they’re owed is as inaccurate as it is offensive.
On Friday, I wrote to the Minister for Legal Aid to highlight the fact that in some sectors, firms are limited to two claims per year for legal aid work – a regulation that is now seriously jeopardising their ability to survive this crisis. Any suggestion that firms are struggling because they haven’t bothered to claim is badly misinformed, at best, or at worst a cynical attempt to shift the blame onto those that strive to perform difficult, specialised and essential work. I pointed this out again on Monday. The Minister should now set out, urgently, what his Department is going to do to address the desperate plight of legal aid firms.