Kingsley Napley's Public Law team successfully challenge the Lord Chancellor on legal aid reform

19 September 2014

Kingsley Napley LLP acted for the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors Association in their successful Judicial Review of the Lord Chancellor’s proposed ‘reforms’ of criminal legal aid.

In a judgment delivered in the High Court today, Mr Justice Burnett held that the consultation process, which had led to a key aspect of the reforms, was ‘so unfair’ as to be illegal and said that ‘something clearly did go wrong’.

Adam Chapman, Head of Public Law at Kingsley Napley, who led the Judicial Review challenge, comments:

“We are delighted with today’s result. This is a significant judgment given the impact that the proposed reforms would have on solicitors firms – and, even more importantly, on access to justice.

“The judge found that the Ministry of Justice did not decide their reforms on the basis of the best possible information available. They chose not to consult on critical issues with those best placed to help them, criminal legal aid solicitors and the LCCSA and CLSA. In essence that is the reason why the judicial review challenge succeeded and why the Lord Chancellor must now conduct a proper consultation before his criminal legal aid ‘reform’ programme can proceed.

“In doing so he will have a legal duty ‘conscientiously’ to take into account the responses received. The LCCSA and CLSA will take an active part in that consultation and will be alert, with our help, to ensure that it is conducted fairly and lawfully.”

The Kingsley Napley team acting for the LCCSA and CLSA was Adam Chapman and Emily Carter, partners in the Public Law team and they instructed barristers Jason Coppel QC and Jo Clement of 11KBW.

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