Access to justice in the criminal courts

Speaking at a symposium organised by Warwick University with Monash University Australia; senior partner Anthony Edwards looked at the future for criminal law professions, following a further 17.5% reduction in rates of remuneration.

He called for a substantial and urgent increase in the use of technology between solicitors, the police station and courts as one of the few remaining ways to reduce overheads.

As to the solicitors’ profession he said:                                                                          

The government’s announcement that there is over a 2 year period to be a further reduction of 17.5% in income is a devastating blow. For those of us in London we are having great difficulty understanding how we are even meant to survive the first 8.75% part of this reduction. To introduce the reduction ahead of market change was deeply ill-judged.

The decision to require that major firms outside London should reduce their case loads is an extraordinary one based in a theory of competition, but does not recognise the reality of the expertise on the street.

Outside the “Carter” (urban) areas firms remain small and growth will be challenging- the possibility of partnerships being allowed is a significant gain.

As to the Bar he commented:

The Bar cannot survive in its present form. Although I have in the past been critical of the earnings of the Bar my view is that their pay is now so low that no person can reasonably be expected to attend at a Crown Court for a single case. The Bar will have to shrink substantially in size and become a trials only profession. Most barristers will first qualify as solicitors to gain their general experience. Only the best will transfer to the Bar.

For the full speech please click here