The Ministry of Justice said proposed cuts are intended to impact the highest-earning barristers and said that 70% of criminal barristers contracted to Very High Cost Cases receive fee incomes of more than £100,000.
We agree legal aid is a vital part of our justice system and that's why we have to find efficiencies to ensure it remains sustainable and available to those most in need of a lawyer.
We have engaged constructively and consistently with lawyers - including revising our proposals in response to their comments - and to allege we have not is re-writing history.
"We have a £2 billion legal aid budget annually, which is one of the most generous in the world, and after the proposed go through it will be £1.5 billion - which will remain one of the most generous in world.
"What we're now doing is looking at the rates paid to the barristers... We are making sure those who are vulnerable, in need of money, and those who need the assistance of legal aid funding do get it."
A group of leading barristers has said that the Government's plan for legal aid cuts will cause "irreparable harm" to the system.
In a letter to The Telegraph, six leading barristers said that lawyers will simply leave the system if plans to reduce their legal aid fees by up to 20% go ahead.
Maura McGowan QC, chairwoman of the Bar, told BBC Radio 5 Live the move will drive away talent.
It will mean people who depend on publicly-funded representation run the risk of getting a lower standard and that translates across the entire system.
It's not just in criminal work, the Government have removed legal aid from vast areas of family work and other civil, so to say that they're making these cuts because they want to protect those who most need help cannot be right when they're taking legal aid away from the people who do need that help.
The Government will scrap plans to award legal aid contracts to the lowest bidders following criticisms it would reduce justice to a "factory mentality", the Times (£) reports.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling reportedly ditched the proposals after drawing up the Government's latest legal aid reforms with the support of the Law Society.
Instead, law firms seeking a legal aid contract will be subject to certain criteria and sustainability but price will not be a factor, the newspaper said.
Barrister-turned-MP Karl Turner had earlier raised fears that price-competitive tendering for legal aid would lead to large companies like G4S and Serco dominating the market at the expense of smaller firms with greater expertise.
Responding to a Ministry of Justice consultation on legal aid reform, which includes paving the way for lawyers to compete for contracts, former Court of Appeal judge Sir Anthony Hooper has branded the plans "fundamentally flawed" and "must be rejected in whole".
He told the Law Society Gazette: "Many judges are hugely concerned about these proposals, but it’s hugely difficult for the senior judiciary to speak out."
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has responded to claims that plans to overhaul legal aid, which include criminal defendants living in households with a disposable income of £37,500, could destroy the British justice system.
He said: "We have one of the best legal professions in the world."
"But at a time of major financial challenges, the legal sector cannot be excluded from the Government's commitment to getting better value for taxpayers' money. We believe costs paid to lawyers through legal aid should reflect this," he added.
"Professional, qualified lawyers will be available, just as they are now, and contracts will only be awarded to lawyers who meet quality standards set by the profession."
Barristers have said the "world-renowned" British justice system could be under threat from government plans to overhaul legal aid.
A response to the Ministry of Justice consultation on legal aid reform has been published by the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, which includes paving the way for lawyers to compete for contracts.
It said that price competitive tendering (PCT) promotes the "lowest possible quality of service" and will result in further changes to civil legal aid, hitting society's most vulnerable people.
Maura McGowan QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: "There is no avoiding the simple fact that these proposals would move us from having a justice system which is admired all over the world, to a system where price trumps all."
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will today say that criminals should pay for the cost of running courts out of their future earnings. He is expected to say:
Why should the law-abiding, hard-working majority pay for a court service for the minority who break the law?
Those who live outside the law should pay the consequences both through being punished and bearing more of the costs they impose on society. That is why we are exploring ways to make criminals pay towards the cost of their prosecution to the court.
Speaking on Daybreak, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of Law Society, said government plans to reduce the number of civil cases eligible for legal aid - and in turn save money - could in fact end up costing the tax payer more: