Legal aid solicitors who specialise in criminal law have been reminded that they can exercise discretion when accepting cases if the work threatens the viability of their firm.
The Law Society has published a practice note reminding criminal legal aid solicitors of their obligations under the legal aid contract to undertake certain work.
James Parry, chair of the Society’s criminal law committee, said: ‘The reduction in funding for criminal legal aid work has created a situation where many solicitors are increasingly required to undertake work that is unremunerated or carried out at a loss. This presents a serious tension between continuing to undertake legally aided work and obligations to provide a proper standard of service to their clients or to conduct business in a financially sustainable manner.
‘As a result, firms must carefully consider each instruction, in particular as to whether to accept or refuse such instructions will be contrary to their professional obligations.’