Justice secretary to meet lawyers over legal aid fears
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The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has agreed to meet criminal legal aid lawyers to discuss the government's widely opposed plans for legal aid in person, after pressure to do so by the Law Society.
The most contentious issue to be discussed is the government's proposal to introduce price-competitive tendering (PCT) for legal aid contracts, which would effectively hand out the right to provide legal aid services to the lowest bidder, with no regard to quality. The proposals also include a plan to prevent vulnerable people who need legal aid from having any choice as to who their lawyer is. As reported by the Law Society Gazette, most leading criminal legal aid firms support a boycott of the PCT proposals.
The first of two meetings with Grayling will take place next week. Some 25 practitioners from a range of firms have been invited, as well as members of the Law Society's criminal law committee and other bodies. The second meeting will take place in two weeks, with 25 nominated local Law Society representatives invited to express their views to the justice secretary.
President of the Law Society Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: "We hope that after hearing from those at the very heart of a system that ensures access to justice, the justice secretary will take appropriate action."