Belfast Telegraph

Legal aid cuts 'won't hurt right to justice'

By Alan Erwin

New rules for paying lawyers in Northern Ireland will not lead to a "systematic failure" of justice, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers and solicitors opposed to cuts in legal aid for criminal cases have joined together for a Judicial Review to fight Justice Minister David Ford's policy.

They claimed that the new rates could result in innocent defendants being convicted, with only the rich and powerful being able to secure effective representation.

They added that new rules were brought in with no provision made for the time and skill required of lawyers in cases which cannot be properly remunerated by standard fees.

But counsel for Mr Ford argued that judicial intervention was unnecessary in the case and that it would take exceptional circumstances for the courts to intervene on an abstract challenge to the legality of the legislation.

Tony McGleenan QC added: "It would require a demonstration that in fact there was a systematic failure in securing access to justice. We will say there's nothing of that nature in this case."

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph