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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 04:39 GMT 05:39 UK
Lawyers warn on legal aid reform
Solicitor Sally Middleton, dressed as Lady Justice, joins the protest
Lawyers held a protest against the changes outside Parliament
Lawyers' groups have issued a dire warning about the effect of government reforms to the legal aid system.

They have signed a letter to the Times newspaper denouncing the changes as an unprecedented threat to social justice.

The government thinks the 2bn spent each year on legal aid is too much and wants a flat-rate system to save 500m.

Lawyers fear the flat fee will not cover their costs in cases such as mental health, child custody or housing which can be complex and take time.

Letter signed

Friday is the deadline for solicitors to sign up to the new system but many are refusing.

The letter has been signed by organisations including the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Earlier this month, hundreds of lawyers demonstrated against the shake-up outside Parliament.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) described the protest as "unprofessional".


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Legal aid changes
19 Mar 07 |  UK

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