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July 2015

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Legal Action

if you have a message regarding the magazine, please contact the editor, lag@lag.org.uk.

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"Publication of the July/August Legal Action has been delayed this month so that we can cover the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards which takes place on Thursday 7th July. Legal Action will be printed and distributed next week"

LAG is currently reviewing how we publish Legal Action online. As part of this process we have decided to discontinue the practice of posting a pdf version of the journal. As an interim measure we will continue to publish the digital version of articles and these will continue to be accessible to current subscribers for no charge.

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Criminal legal aid firms received confirmation of their worst fears last month with the government’s announcement that the second 8.75 per cent fee cut for police station and magistrates’ court work was to go ahead on 1 July. Details have also emerged about the number of tenders received by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for duty work. The next few months are likely to see upheaval as firms either fold or adapt to a transformed system. Many are also continuing to fight.

News

After months of insisting that its much - criticised Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) would be made compulsory for all firms from October 2015, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has backed down and announced a four- month delay in its implementation.

A second challenge to the exceptional case funding (ECF) scheme is underway, with the Public Law Project (PLP) being instructed by the Official Solicitor to bring the action on behalf of a vulnerable client, known as IS.

Cover story

People of modest means are increasingly being priced out of the chance to become legal aid lawyers. What more can firms do to ensure that this field of law doesn’t become the preserve only of those from wealthy backgrounds?
Catherine Baksi investigates.

Column

Time to swot up on legal aid threats

July, 2015 by Vicky Ling

To avoid icebergs, it pays to look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, says Vicky Ling. LAPG’s innovative Practice Management Certificate course shows firms how to use this kind of analysis to stay afloat.

Column

The LASPO effect ...

July, 2015 by Carol Storer

The latest civil justice figures published by the Ministry of Justice show that the legal aid cuts are continuing to bite, says Carol Storer.

Feature

Belfast lawyer Christopher Stanley explains why his firm has taken a stand against the legal aid cuts by walking out of major criminal trials. Northern Ireland’s history of conflict means proper funding to maintain the rule of law is vital, he says.

Feature

Lawyers at the Legal Aid Practitioners Group’s 2015 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards in early July were feeling the heat, for more reasons than one, reports Catherine Baksi.

Use it or lose it

Challenging but not impossible

July, 2015 by Gemma Vine and Komal Hussain

Public funding for inquests has survived relatively unscathed, but the process of applying for it is fraught with difficulty. Gemma Vine and Komal Hussain set out what’s available and provide some tips.
Legal aid may be down, but it’s not out completely – at least not yet. Legal Action’s ‘Use it or lose it’ series aims to highlight what remains of legal aid, and to show practitioners how they can make the most of it to help their clients obtain much-needed access to justice.

Law and practice

Stuart Hearne explores a ground-breaking decision on priority need for accommodation and what it means for homeless applicants

Law and practice

Recent developments in prison law

July, 2015 by Hamish Arnott and Simon Creighton

Update on transfer of indeterminate sentence prisoners; escape list changes; approved premises and sex discrimination. Hamish Arnott and Simon Creighton round up the key changes and cases.