A world-class legal aid system, held in the same esteem as the NHS, is the objective of the debate over publicly funded legal services being launched. The Discussion Paper highlights the detrimental effects upon access to justice which the current system creates. Writing in the introduction to the new paper, Tim Dutton QC, Chairman of the Bar said: “We may be about to face the irreversible consequences of the erosion of legal aid, brought about by reductions in funding of frontline services by Government.

Legal aid is worth standing up for – not for the sake of lawyers, but in the public interest and in the interests of justice. A robust legal aid system serves the goals of the conviction of the guilty and the acquittal of the innocent. It is also a tool for tackling social exclusion, and a powerful weapon in favour of the weak, the victim and hard-working families who deserve a fairer deal from the law.

It is in the interests of justice, because the court system cannot operate effectively without the support of suitably qualified and properly paid solicitors and advocates, with a fundamental duty to the court, and a responsibility to do the right thing in the eyes of the law.”