CRIMINAL LEGAL AID IS UNDER SERIOUS THREAT, BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID
The Government seeks to cut the legal aid budget by a further £220 million, in the areas of civil and criminal legal aid, this will leave many people not being able to have free legal representation. In summary, the budget cutting proposals being advanced by the ministry of Justice includes introducing price competitive tendering for firms that want to continue providing this service. The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will require law firms bidding for new criminal legal aid contracts to implement significant IT infrastructure changes before they will be awarded a contract to do legal aid work. When competitive tendering is introduced a lot of small high street law firms in the Caribbean community will have no choice but to opt out of the bidding process because it is not financially viable to spend vast amounts of money implementing a new IT infrastructure and then to be told that you failed to meet the LAA’s requirements for a criminal legal aid contract.
How will these changes affect the Caribbean community? Well unfortunately many of us in our community are no strangers to the criminal justice system whether it is personally, a family member or friend. The introduction of price competitive tendering may result in a significant number of small law firms who provide a good service to our community to stop continuing to practice criminal legal aid work, or simply have no option but to charge their existing clients on private paying basis in order to survive the legal aid changes.
NSOCA WILL REPLACE THE CAB FOR OUR COMMUNITY WHO MAY HAVE NO OTHER OPTION
The other concern that we have is the threatened closure of financially struggling citizen advice bureaus in our communities. The CAB as they are more commonly known has provided a good service to our Caribbean community in assisting people who may not have access to a lawyer to assist them with issues such as housing matters, welfare benefits, debt and family matters. In light of the closures of the CAB branches, we at the New Societe Organisation of Caribbean ‘Cultural’ Affairs recognise the ever increasing need that our Caribbean community has to gain access legal advice to resolve their legal issues and problems in these times of uncertainty.
The New Societe Organisation of Caribbean ‘Cultural’ Affairs has an experienced professional legal department that is geared towards providing legal advice and assistance from our offices to our community. We also provide a telephone advice service, with a view to negotiating our professional fees should the matter proceed to litigation and you require our services throughout the litigation.
If you require legal advice and assistance concerning any matter, then please call us at our offices on 0207 733 7337. Do not allow yourself to be unrepresented or ill-advised, but contact us immediately for confidential legal advice and assistance.