LETTER:Cash-limiting plans will hurt the lawyers' `patients'

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The Independent Online
From Mr Charles Elly Sir: It is extraordinary that you should suggest that in supporting the legal aid scheme, lawyers are hanging on to "outdated privileges" ("Putting lawyers under the knife", leading article, 12 February). Solicitors struggling to make ends meet on legal aid fees which have been cut by 30 per cent and who work nights on the duty solicitors' rota hardly see legal aid work as a privilege. If we object to the Lord Chancellor's crude cash-limiting plans, it is because we can see that they will hurt our clients, just as the NHS reforms have hurt patients.

As you predict, changes to the system will prove chaotic and acrimonious. The costs of the upheaval will be under-estimated and the theoretical benefits will not be realised. As in the NHS, more will have to be spent on administrators and less on actually providing the service.

Solicitors who have chosen to work in deprived communities offering service to legally aided clients, are entitled to recognition for the work they do.

Yours faithfully, CHARLES ELLY President The Law Society London, WC2

12 January

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