The Secret Barrister by The Secret Barrister

The Secret Barrister by The Secret Barrister

Author:The Secret Barrister
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pan Macmillan UK

It cannot be stated loudly enough that Keres & Co. are in the tiny minority of publicly funded defence solicitors. Most firms are staffed by dedicated professionals who fight unyieldingly to safeguard the interests of their clients in the face of appalling systemic conditions. But the very real risk is that in increasing their workloads and decreasing their derisory fees, the good defence solicitors are going to fall by the wayside. I have seen more solicitors than I can count flee criminal legal aid work for the financial security of wills, probate and private civil law. Some of the best are still clinging on, but only just. If they lose their grip and slip away into the financial abyss, the figures lurking in the shadows will swoop in and sweep up, relying on volume, and not quality or earned reputation. Unless they can afford to pay for private legal representation, those accused of crimes who depend on legal aid, including first-time entrants like you, or your partner, or your child, will be at Keres’ mercy. Presently, I would say unhesitatingly that the best legal aid firms provide, against all odds, a service equal to if not better than that of their higher-remunerated private-client counterparts. But if they fall and the Kereses rise, two-tiered justice will become an embedded, accepted feature of our criminal system.

In fact, speaking of two-tiered justice is not quite right. Because presently there is a third tier, squashed between the legally aided and privately funded, representing one of the greatest hidden scandals of all. This is a stratum of middle-income defendants who do not meet the criteria for legal aid, and who cannot afford to pay privately. And who, as a result of a silent but devastating government reform, find themselves victims of what I call the innocence tax.


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