Legal Aid Action – Update
As you may be aware, we have taken action in response to the recent cuts to criminal legal aid and the further cuts due next year. Please see our announcement here.
The Government has so far failed to recognise the vital role that small businesses play in bolstering the Economy. Imposing further legal aid cuts at a time when overheads continue to rise is catastrophic for small firms and undoubtedly will have an impact upon the public accessing Justice.
We are grateful to our Regional colleagues for the great leadership they have shown in temporarily putting their immediate interests aside in an attempt to encourage dialogue with the Justice Secretary. We hold a similar aim. However we accept that London is a vastly different climate and recognise that the economic conditions here are dire.
As a result, we are presently suspending our adoption of The Crown Court protocol. This suspension will continue pending further discussion with our colleagues in London and will be reviewed regularly.
We thank our Clients and our Staff for the support they have shown over the last 10 days.
. Legal aid is about justice. Justice for all; not only for those who can afford to pay privately for the best lawyers in the business.
Law firms that provide legal assistance to clients who qualify for legal aid are staffed by people who value justice more than money -- legal aid work never paid anywhere near as well as commercial or private client work. But just like all hard-working taxpayers, those who dedicate their lives to seeking justice for those not wealthy enough to afford it on their own still need jobs, somewhere to live, clothes on their backs and food on their tables.
After a decade of continued cuts to legal aid, the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has decided that the time is right to make still further cuts to criminal legal aid. Mr Grayling intends to cut the rates of criminal solicitors by another 17.5%. Cuts to legal aid have already been putting law firms out of business and average people out of work, while those seeking legal help end up getting poorer representation from unqualified representatives.
This is the experience of one of Wainwright & Cummins’ criminal legal aid solicitors - Clea Topolski - who got into legal aid work for all the right reasons, but finds herself questioning whether her family can withstand another cut so that she can continue to stand up for people who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.
. Some of our recent leading cases are as follows:
R v B (2013): The firm represented a client who was charged with eight others with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, namely cocaine and heroin. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted of both charges following an eight week trial.
R v F (2013): We represented a client charged with attempted robbery and Grievous Bodily Harm Section 18. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter was listed for trial. The trial lasted five days and our client was acquitted by the jury.
R v K (2013): The firm represented a client who was charged with two counts of taking in a prohibited article into a prison, namely cannabis and diamorphine. Our client entered not guilty plea to both allegations and the issue of duress was raised as our clients defence. Following a Goodyear direction, our client entered a guilty plea and was given a suspended sentence.
R v M (2013): Our client was charged with another with causing Grievous Bodily Harm to a child. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter proceeded to trial. Counsel made a successful half time submission resulting in the Judge making a terminating ruling. The Crown Prosecution Service did not agree with the Judge’s ruling and appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal where the ruling was upheld.
R v K (2013): The firm represented a client charged with street robbery. Our client entered a not guilty plea and the matter went to trial at the Crown Court. The issue at trial was identification. Following the alleged victims evidence, the Judge directed the jury to find our client not guilty.
R v D (2013): We represented a client who was charged with benefit fraud to a sum over £68k. Following a guilty plea our client only received a six month custodial sentence.
R v B (2013): The firm represented a client who was arrested with another for passing counterfeit currency. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted following trial at the crown court.
R v H (2013): Our client faced a charge of being in possession of a bladed article, it was alleged that our client put a knife to the throat of their victim. Our client entered a not guilty plea and was acquitted following a trial at the crown court.
R V D (2013): The firm represented a client charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Our client entered a not guilty plea and elected the matter be heard at the crown court, where our client was acquitted by the jury.
R v F (2014): Our client was charged with attempted burglary. The client entered a not guilty plea and the matter proceeded to a trial in the Crown Court. Our client was acquitted by the jury following the trial.
R v M (2014): Our client was charged with handling stolen goods. A not guilty plea was entered and the matter proceeded to trial. At the close of the prosecution case, defence counsel made a submission of no case to answer. The submission was successful and the Judge directed the jury to find the client not guilty.
. The Legal 500 is a definitive guide to the most highly regarded law firms and practitioners in the UK. The guide provides a thorough review of the strengths and capabilities of law firms across a number of legal disciplines. The Legal 500 has once again recommended Wainwright & Cummins in the Real Estate Social housing: tenant.
Our housing team is very committed to achieving high standards of client care and providing a strong quality service. The recommendation by the Legal 500 is strong recognition of our housing teams strength and capabilities to provide a high quality of service to our clients.
. Aneesha Bhunjun Talk at University of Hertfordshire, de Havilland Campus
12th March 2013
Aneesha is frequently invited to give her opinion on topical legal issues and developments, which have had an impact on her work. She recently gave a presentation at the University of Hertfordshire in conjunction with Amnesty International and Anti-Slavery International where she spoke about her experiences of working on legal matters in relation to the increasingly prevalent issue of human trafficking and slavery.
In brief, Aneesha’s talk took a domestic stance; she spoke of her experience dealing with forced marriages as the Vice-Chair of the Association of Women Lawyers (AAWL) and highlighted the fact that forced marriages are a form of slavery. She raised awareness of the similarities of relevant defined terms within the legislation relating to human trafficking and enforced marriages; drawing a clear link between these two areas of law.
. We are delighted to announce that Our Conveyancing team have been awarded the CQS (a quality mark ) by the Law Society. This is yet further recognition of our drive to ensure we reach the highest standards in our client care.
. Wainwright and Cummins are delighted to say that the Social Housing team have been included again in Legal 500 for 2013
. Wainwright and Cummins members walked in aid of Legal Advice centres