Lawyers stay away in protest

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

LAWYERS stayed away from courts across Kent this week, in­clud­ing Ash­ford, in protest against pro­posed changes to le­gal aid.

Many oth­ers re­mained in their of­fices or trav­elled to the NEC in Birm­ing­ham for a train­ing day, al­though a spokesman for Her Majesty’s Court Ser­vice said there had been “no dis­rup­tion”.

The train­ing day was part of un­prece­dented na­tional ac­tion by two so­lic­i­tors’ unions, which also saw lawyers from the area join more than 1,000 oth­ers protest­ing out­side Par­lia­ment.

So­lic­i­tors say the pro­posed changes, put for­ward by the Le­gal Ser­vices Com­mis­sion, would mean at least a 10 per cent re­duc­tion in al­ready low pay rates and would force many out of busi­ness.

Spokesman Mark Haskell said: “Lo­cal so­lic­i­tors are de­ter­mined to raise the profile of this mat­ter be­cause al­ready ‘ad­vice deserts’ have arisen across the coun­try which are leav­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble with­out re­course to ad­vice and sup­port par­tic­u­larly in civil pro­ced­ings such as fam­ily and mat­ri­mo­nial work.

“Dur­ing the next few months those cuts will ex­tend to ad­vice for crim­i­nal mat­ters in po­lice sta­tions and Mag­is­trates Courts.”

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