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The Law Society is to convene a Special General Meeting to urge resistance to the government’s legal aid reforms, it was announced this morning (13 November).
The move folows a motion put forward by Southampton-based solicitor Roger Peach, supported by another 175 solicitors, to reject the principle of price competitive tendering for criminal legal aid services as proposed in the Carter Review of legal aid.
Peach’s motion proposes that the Law Society should “take immediate steps to negotiate new terms for the supply of a Criminal Defence Service”.
It concludes that the society should reject “the principle of Price Competitive Tendering while the Department for Constitutional Affairs continues as a monopsonist and supplier of defence services”.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said in a statement: “It is difficult to recall any other issue generating so much strength of feeling among solicitors as the Government’s legal aid reforms. Even solicitors who do not work in this sector fear the Government is overseeing the piecemeal destruction of this vital public service. The rates for legal aid have been frozen for many years leaving solicitors feeling exploited and forcing them to vent their concerns in this way.”
The special general meeting will take place in January 2007, allowing time for the requisite 28 days’ notice.