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

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The Independent Online
From Mr Nicholas Wood Sir: Your leading article of 12 January gives an entirely erroneous impression of the working of the legal aid system, and of the way lawyers are remunerated under it. The system provides for the vetting of lawyers' proposals for special expenditure, the assessment of lawyers' claims for fees (including disallowances for wastage), the reporting of abuses and the discharge of legal aid certificates in appropriate cases - for example, at the instance of a judge or an opposing party in litigation. To anyon e who doubts this, I commend the eminently readable article on the subject in volume 27 (2) of Halsbury's Laws of England (4th Edition), which is available in most well-stocked public libraries. Generations of lawyers have had to work under these discipl ines, having to face financial reality all the time.

Thus, the imagery of the profligate lawyer prescribing expensive remedies unchecked to line his own pocket, while no doubt amusing copy, does nothing to educate the average reader. On the contrary, it misleads. Yours faithfully, NICHOLAS WOOD Five Paper Buildings London, EC4

12 January