Legal Aid Fees Dispute: “the Law Society takes the view that this matter should receive early and urgent priority”

As the BBC report, the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, Brian Speers, has called on the NI Justice Minister to make the resolution of the legal aid fees dispute  “the day one priority for the minister when the assembly is reconvened.”  The report also notes

The Northern Ireland Court Service confirmed that 36 solicitors’ firms in Northern Ireland have stopped work on 60 cases in the past three weeks.

And from the UTV report

Mr Speers added: “The Minister needs to simply reflect on advice that senior, responsible criminal lawyers were able to provide, that the Law Society was able to provide, and which unfortunately the Minister did not accept.

“Regrettably, a situation of which the Minister was warned is now occurring. This is why the Law Society feels it should be the day-one priority for the Minister when the Assembly is reconvened.”

He stressed that the Society had accepted amendments to the fees system were needed, and that it proposed abolishing the Very High Cost Case rates.

Emphasising the need for an urgent resolution to the stand-off, Mr Speers added: “We are looking at a situation where defendants accused of serious crime, where there are standards for a fair trial – proper representation, proper testing of the prosecution case – these normal expectations in a mature society are now in danger of not occurring.”