Conservative Party manifesto: Bar Council response
The Bar Council has issued its response to the Conservative Party publishing its general election manifesto today.
"The two main parties have published their manifestos but there is still no sign of a commitment to restoring access to justice for the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families left excluded by legal aid cuts," said Alistair MacDonald QC, Chairman of the Bar in response to the publication of the Conservative manifesto today.
"The Conservatives have pledged to 'continue to provide access to justice in an efficient way'. This promise is made by a party which, in government, passed legislation which massively reduced the scope of legal aid. Such a promise will therefore be cold comfort to a single parent battling for custody against an abusive partner, a retired person challenging their benefits payments or a person seriously injured in an accident at work or on the roads. In addition, recent hikes in court fees risk pricing parties, such as small businesses seeking to claim monies they are owed, out of justice.
"However, today's manifesto re-affirms plans to ensure that all publicly-funded advocates working on serious sexual offence cases receive specialist training, which we welcome. The legal profession has been working closely with the Coalition Government to develop this training and we hope to be able to take forward plans which have been under discussion."