There were 3,942 responses to the whirlwind three-week survey, which was issued after the High Court found an earlier consultation “so unfair as to be unlawful”, because the Government did not disclose the reports from Otterburn Legal Consulting and KPMG on which it had relied in formulating its proposals.

Tenders for 527 duty provider contracts, two more than originally proposed, will be open until 29 January 2015. The MoJ has also confirmed its intention to implement a second fee cut of up to 8.75% in July 2015 for solicitors.

The Bar Council said the proposed changes would result in a “massive and irreversible dislocation in the market for criminal litigators, for no obvious benefit”.

The Criminal Bar Association said: “The changes made pursuant to the consultation are trivial and do not address the problems inherent in the proposals. The Government continues to rely on unreliable assumptions and has ignored the evidence and informed expert opinion.

“We remind the Government of the words of... Lord Faulks QC that, ‘the fat has been so far removed from the carcass of criminal legal aid that these further cuts really threaten our justice system’.”