Criminal legal aid lawyers to receive pay increase

updated on 29 January 2024

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The lord chancellor has announced that criminal legal aid solicitors working in police stations and youth courts are due to receive a pay increase to reflect the “critical role” they play in “ensuring access to justice”.

The proposals, which are part of the government’s second phase of the response to the Criminal Legal Aid Independent Review, include a £16 million investment to increase fees for solicitors working in police stations. Another £5.1 million has been allocated to boost the pay of solicitors working on youth court legal aid work.

Speaking of the two pay increases, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk said: “Solicitors working in police stations play a critical role in ensuring access to justice by giving people legal advice, often at antisocial hours and at a moment’s notice. It’s right that they receive a substantial pay increase to reflect the importance and complexity of their work.”

Chalk added: “This longer-term investment will also help ensure solicitors are paid more fairly in the youth court with the enhanced fee helping to recruit and retain solicitors who do essential work to uphold the fairness of our justice system.”

The funding increase will take effect from summer 2024.

The announcement follows the publication of a report by The Association of Prison Lawyers, which outlined the hurdles that lawyers face trying to see their clients in prison, including:

  • 34 instances where lawyers were informed there were no video links available;
  • 25 examples where the wait time for a video link was “excessive”;
  • 13 instances where there was limited availability for in-person visits; and
  • six examples where visits were “completely ineffective because the client wasn’t produced, or a laptop wasn’t allowed in”.

The report called for “urgent steps” to be taken “to ensure efficient access to justice for everyone in prison”.