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Judge Rinder speaks out against swingeing legal aid cuts

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A lawyer that doesn’t like Grayling? Who’d have thought it?

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ITV television favourite Judge Rinder has joined the long (long, long) list of lawyers who have publicly condemned the government’s legal aid cuts.

Speaking to the Metro on Wednesday, the 2 Hare Court criminal barrister, real name Robert Rinder, gave a frank insight into the widespread effects of access to justice cuts:

Leading barristers have had to find other means of income. Chambers have had to move away from publicly funded work. It means some of the best practitioners are no longer taking criminal legal aid work. The result is that young barristers, some of whom have jumped through extraordinary hoops (our chambers takes one person from 600 applicants), will often be in £60,000 worth of debt and be paid next to nothing to defend people.

Criminal lawyers have been hit hard by the welfare reforms. In an effort to tighten its purse strings, the government has slashed the number of duty provider work contracts by two-thirds. Criminal legal aid solicitors’ fees have been reduced twice — first in 2014 by 8.75% and again this summer by a further 8.75%.

There is a fear that dwindling public funding will prompt lawyers to offer a fast-food approach to justice, and, according to the TV judge, this will lead to miscarriages of justice:

It’s unsustainable. The end result is guilty people won’t go to prison and innocent people will. It’s a very serious situation.

Evidence was released this week showing that only a quarter of the British public think that the legal system is fair, and, according to Hodge Jones & Allen senior partner Patrick Allen, the consensus is that a lack of public funding exacerbates this.

So how do we go about rectifying this situation? Rinder believes that the public purse will have to foot the bill:

It’s a challenging case to make — why should people we perceive as criminals be given access to public funds? But if we’re serious about the criminal justice system — and it’s the bedrock of our democracy and rule of law — we have to pay for it.

Aside from his comments on legal aid, Benedict Cumberbatch’s bestie also gave readers an insight into why he chose to forge a career at the bar. He explained:

I wanted to be a mouthpiece for people from the most challenged communities and to be the person standing between the power of the state and the individual.

No wonder he’s so enraged by cuts introduced by Chris Grayling’s when he was justice secretary. And what’s next for the snarky lawyer? The answer, fortunately for us, is more telly:

I’m hoping to do shows that empower people to challenge those who abuse positions of trust — be that builders or members of the government.

Rinder is currently plugging his new book — ‘Rinder’s Rules: Make the law work for you!’ — which features the charming tagline:

“Too many lawyers spout jargon… I’m here to cut the bulls**t.”

That’s one for the Christmas list…

Previously:

TV barrister Judge Rinder urges ‘serious’ law students to lighten up in order to succeed [Legal Cheek]