Belfast Telegraph

Legal aid cuts will not lead to job losses: Ford

DAVID YOUNG

MASSIVE cuts to the legal aid budget in Northern Ireland will not cost any lawyers their jobs, Stormont's Justice Minister said.

David Ford told the Assembly that those in the legal profession warning of the consequences of his efforts to reduce the £100m annual bill had failed to provide him with evidence there would be redundancies.

But the SDLP's Alban Maginness, a qualified barrister, asked if the minister was living in the "real world" with his assertion that such major cutbacks would not have an impact on jobs.

The minister has already implemented measures to reduce the spend on legal aid in criminal cases and is now proposing similar steps with civil cases, stressing that the current total annual outlay is coming in at around £25m over the £75m allocated budget.

The minister was quizzed by MLAs on the practical impact on the legal profession itself.

The minister said prior to pushing ahead with cuts on both civil and criminal cases, his department had conducted an assessment of the likely consequences.

"The assessment concluded that there would be no adverse impact on legal firms," he said.

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