Amnesty International has published a damning report on legal aid cuts, saying they leave the most vulnerable without access to justice.Read the full story ›
The government has welcomed the ruling that a serious fraud trial should be resumed despite a row with barristers that led to it being halted.
In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said: "Legal aid remains available for all very high cost cases and even after the savings a QC working on a VHCC like this could expect to receive around £100,000.
"We have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world and we have to address this.
"We are entirely supportive of the self-employed Bar and have made strenuous efforts to secure their continuing co-operation, including changing our original proposals and introducing support measures where possible.
"It remains open to barristers to take up these cases."
A judge has warned that a serious fraud case at the centre of a row over legal aid cuts could still be stayed in future - meaning the defendants may yet be freed before facing trial.
In his Court of Appeal judgement, Sir Brian Leveson said: "We are not saying that there could not come a time when it may be appropriate to order that this indictment be stayed.
"That time, however, remains very much in the future and problems about representation will have to have developed considerably before such an exceptional order could be justified."
The Financial Conduct Authority has said it "welcomes" the Court of Appeal's decision to order the resumption of a serious fraud case at the centre of a legal aid row.
In a statement it said: "The FCA is committed to pursuing criminal action in appropriate cases and is pleased that this case can now proceed towards trial."
During the appeal hearing, Sean Larkin QC, for the FCA, told the court that the original decision to halt the trial was "unreasonable".
He argued that the public interest required a lesser remedy - an adjournment - in the case.
A judge has called on the government and the legal profession to "resolve the impasse" that led to a delay in a serious fraud trial.
Sir Brian Leveson ordered the continuation of a trial which had been halted on the basis that a row over legal aid meant the defendants could not get access to representation.
As he delivered the Court of Appeal verdict, Sir Brian said: "[It is] critical that there remains a thriving cadre of advocates capable of undertaking all types of publicly-funded work.
"We consider it of fundamental importance that the Ministry of Justice, led by the Lord Chancellor, and the professions continue to try to resolve the impasse that presently stands in the way of the delivery of justice in the most complex of cases."
A decision to throw out a multimillion-pound fraud trial after defendants said they could not get representation because of legal aid cuts has been overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The court of appeal will decide on today on whether it was lawful for a fraud case that collapsed earlier in the month as the judge agreed the defendants would not have a fair trial.
Judge Anthony Leonard stayed the proceedings on May 1, but City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently challenged his decision at the Court of Appeal. But during the appeal hearing, Sean Larkin QC, for the FCA said:
The judge erred in principle and came to an unreasonable decision. We want you simply to reverse the stay and that will have the effect of this matter going back before the judge at some time in the future for him to consider how best to progress the case.
He argued that the public interest required a lesser remedy - an adjournment - in the case. If the appeal fails then the defendants, charged with conspiracy to defraud, would be acquitted.
The Court of Appeal will today give their ruling on a challenge against a decision to throw out a multimillion pound fraud trial after defendants said they could not get representation because of cuts to legal aid.
They have been urged to overturn a judge's ruling after the Prime Minister's brother, Alexander Cameron QC, successfully argued that the case should be halted because controversial Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reforms meant the five defendants could not find barristers of "sufficient competence".
The Prime minister's brother, a leading barrister, stood at the centre of a row about legal aid cuts today.
David Cameron and his government faced embarrassment as a serious fraud trial collapsed after a judge accepted Alexander Cameron's claim that the defendants "could not receive a fair trial" as no barrister would represent them.
The PM brushed aside his brother's 'victory', saying it was simply part of the court process.
ITV News correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:
Legal expert Merry Neal warns there's a risk serious criminals could walk free if the legal aid argument is not resolved soon.Read the full story ›