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Barristers in legal aid reform

Barristers in legal aid reform

Dozens of leading barristers have urged the Government to withdraw proposed legal aid reforms in a letter to the Daily Telegraph.

They say the reforms will “seriously undermine” Britain’s worldwide reputation for justice. Ninety barristers have signed the letter, including Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, and Cherie Blair (aka Cherie Booth).

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced changes in April aimed at dealing with the escalating number of applications for judicial reviews. These are court proceedings where a judge reviews the legality of a decision or action made by a public body.

The reforms include:

  • banning people from seeking a hearing in person if their original written application is ruled as totally without merit
  • a £215 court fee for anyone seeking a hearing in person after their original written judicial review application has been rejected
  • reducing the time restriction for applying for a planning decision judicial review from three months to six weeks

Mr Grayling said the system is being changed so it cannot be used as a “cheap delaying tactic”. Judicial review applications increased from 6,692 in 2007 to 11,359 in 2011.

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