Bar chief calls for overhaul of legal aid funding
Times photographer Jack Hill
Ministers should launch a “complete rethink” of the availability and quantity of legal aid, one of the country’s top barristers said yesterday.
Andrew Langdon, QC, was responding to comments earlier this week from the UK’s most senior judge, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the president of the Supreme Court. Lord Neuberger argued that it “verges on the hypocritical for governments to bestow rights on citizens while doing very little to ensure that those rights are enforceable”.
Langdon, who is chairman of the Bar Council, which represents 15,000 practising barristers in England and Wales, said Lord Neuberger’s comments “added considerable weight to the concerns voiced by the Bar Council and an increasing number of legal professionals”. The silk pointed out that successive governments had cut legal aid since 1999, and that funding issues posed “an increasing threat to the rule of law”.
Langdon said: “There needs to be a complete rethink on the availability and sufficiency of legal aid to prevent a dislocation of the law from the very many who cannot afford its protection.”