NCC backs Mackay reforms as better deal

CLIENTS are likely to get a better deal under Lord Mackay's reforms, according to the National Consumer Council.

The consumer group's director Ruth Evans made the claim in response to accusations at the Wembley Legal Aid conference that the NCC was sitting on the fence over the Green Paper reforms.

She accused lawyers of pretending “everything was rosy in the garden” adding: “If the system is put into place appropriately we are going to get a better deal than we are getting now.”

Earlier the Lord Chancellor had attempted to turn the tables on the Law Society by refuting its claims that budgets would run out, depriving clients of help in a lottery-like system.

He said the current system could be described as a lottery because clients had no means of knowing whether solicitors were competent or experts in the relevant field.

He added: ” Choice, which is currently restricted to the solicitor's professional monopoly and court-based solutions, would be opened up.”

Law Society head of professional policy Russell Wallman accuses Lord Mackay of attempting to divide the opposition to the Green Paper but stresses the common ground between the society and consumer and advice groups which all object to cash limits.

Wallman, who believes the Lord Chancellor cannot be convinced cash limiting is wrong, takes heart from the shadow Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg QC who told the conference the Labour Party objected to cash-limiting and the price- tendering of contracts.