England: Judges warn of collapse of criminal justice system

England: Judges warn of collapse of criminal justice system

The criminal justice system in England and Wales is heading towards collapse, two senior judges have warned.

Lord Justice Singh and Justice Jay made their warning in a ruling that the UK government acted unlawfully after it failed to properly fund the legal aid system.

The Law Society of England and Wales took the government to court after it neglected to increase the rates criminal defence solicitors receive for legal aid work by the “bare minimum” of 15 per cent, as recommended in a 2021 review by Lord Bellamy KC.

The judges said the system was “slowly coming apart at the seams”.

“The system depends to an unacceptable degree on the goodwill and generosity of spirit of those currently working within it,” they said.

“New blood in significant quantities will not and cannot be attracted to criminal legal aid in circumstances where what is on offer elsewhere is more attractive both in terms of financial remuneration and other benefits.

“Unless there are significant injections of funding in the relatively near future, any prediction along the lines that the system will arrive in due course at a point of collapse is not overly pessimistic.”

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