It was recently reported in the Law Society Gazette that the government has announced new plans for criminal defence tendering in order to reduce the number of lawyers representing criminals in order to ensure that the Legal Aid budget is reduced. This is a decision that should be supported rather than opposed. The government is trying to reduce public debt in a time of recession and economic uncertainly but unfortunately many fat cat lawyers from large criminal defence solicitors are up in arms.
The main thrust of their complaint is that the government is going to take away the right of suspects to choose their own solicitors. This is a decision that should be applauded. Criminal defence lawyers are up in arms reciting human rights to choose a lawyer of choice. In reality what they are saying is that they may not get as much work in the future. The public would probably support this view on the basis that when every other taxpaying member of society goes into hospital they are appointed a GP, surgeon or consultant employed by the National Health Service all of which is paid for by the taxpayer. The patient has no choice to choose and is simply assigned a National Health Service medical practitioner. What is different with this than the Court appointing a very often non-tax paying member of the criminal fraternity a lawyer to be paid at the public expense.
It is time some of these large firms realise that the glory days of the fat cat lawyer are over.