Belfast Telegraph

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Our legal aid among dearest in the world

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/09/2015

Northern Ireland has one of the highest legal aid bills per head in the world.

Earlier this year Justice Minister David Ford announced proposals to subject legal aid payments to a new levy of up to 15% in an effort to tackle a £20m shortfall in the legal aid budget this year.

Mr Ford has already introduced a number of measures to reduce the legal aid spend, such as the standardisation of fees in criminal cases.

He said without reform, the annual legal aid costs are set to rise to £130m.

However, the legal profession has hit out at the changes. In May, barristers at the Criminal Bar declared that they would not take on any new cases under revised legal aid rules. The Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this week that almost 400 people up in court have been left with no lawyer as a strike by Northern Ireland barristers intensifies.

A legal challenge launched by the Bar Council and the Law Society against the pay cuts is due to be heard this week.

Belfast Telegraph

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