British Legal Aid cuts to force small firms to merge

July 8, 2013 The Guardian reports that the British Ministry of Justice is examining proposals to cut £220m from the annual legal aid budget, with most of the saving coming from a 17.5% reduction in the fees paid for representing suspects at police stations and in court.

The justice secretary Chris Grayling acknowledged that the cuts would force smaller firms into mergers, since the profit margins at firms dependent on legal aid work are already so narrow.
Grayling said that the changes won’t diminish the quality of representation, and asked: "What is the difference between having five sole practitioner firms and one firm with five partners?"

The Ministry of Justice is now working with the Law Society to refine the proposal, with plans to conduct a second stage of consultations in September.

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