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East Lancashire courts affected by strike action
SOLICITORS and barristers went on strike yesterday in a row over changes to legal aid.
There was disruption at Burnley Magistrates and Burnley and Preston crown courts while lawyers protested against the proposed cuts.
No industrial action was taken at Blackburn Magistrates Court, with no lawyers taking to the picket line, and cases were heard as usual.
Nick Dearing, from Donald Race and Newton, in Burnley, said: “This is not about fat cat lawyers.
“We do not expect to be rich, but we will not be able to continue to provide a decent service.
“The government is about to introduce a 17.5 per cent cut for doing legally aided work and that is on top of the effective reduction of fees.
“We are aware there is pressure on the public purse, but the reduction is so large that it will threaten the viability of firms.
“Particularly in deprived areas like parts of East Lancashire, people are vulnerable and we are concerned we will not be able to provide them with the necessary protection.”
Justice secretary Chris Grayling is pressing ahead with fee cuts for barristers and solicitors as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the final reforms reflected many of the changes lawyers have asked for and also highlighted measures announced last week to support lawyers through the period of transition.
Protesters marched on the government department to deliver a signed Magna Carta scroll defending the right of every citizen to justice.
Barristers refused to attend court for the first time in January, causing widespread disruption to criminal justice.
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