There have been significant changes in Criminal Law in the United Kingdom in the year 2012. It is not surprising that controversies arise from these changes especially when certain aspects of the law and the people who work in the legal profession may be and are affected.
One of the changes in the Criminal Law of United Kingdom is the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act of 2012 or LASPO. Such act received many controversies after it was introduced to parliament until it was finally given assent. One of the parts of the act is indicates that it will abolish Legal Aid for different areas of law such as social welfare law, clinical negligence, and education and employment. Another change to be gleaned from the act is the part presenting the reforms in the conditional fee agreements. An example of these reforms is that clients will now pay their lawyer’s success fee from the monetary award of damages.
Justice minister Jonathan Dangly said that the act will help people to consider first the available practical advice that may be given to them, rather than instantly engaging to legal action. In every case, there is a possibility of amicable settlement; and from the words of Mr. Dangly, it may be inferred that the act encourages such by imposing the above-mentioned changes. In addition, he said that the act would reduce lawyers’ fees.
The act is crafted to help the people. The positive effects for the benefit of the people are expressly provided in the words of the act. However, these changes would also change the financial relation of the client and solicitors, as well as the law cost draftsmen and the costs lawyers.
There are many speculations that dispute about fees and legal costs between solicitors and their respective clients will increase. It is also feared that courts will not approve of the agreed budget between the client and solicitor, together with the law cost draftsman and/or cost lawyer. This is where the effect of the act on the law cost draftsmen and the costs lawyers will appear, since they are the ones responsible for the assessment of the fees and costs and their responsibility is very important to the success of the litigation as well as that of the solicitors’.
Thus, from the foregoing, it may be gathered that the profession of the solicitors will be shaken, as well as that of the law cost draftsmen and costs lawyers. In a poll made to 137 costs lawyers, fifty four percent (54%) of them forecasted that the changes would be a discouragement to solicitors in taking more complex cases. Further, a survey conducted by members of the Costs Lawyers Association showed that forty-seven percent (47%) of them plans to restructure their practices by diversifying their practice areas or by increasing their marketing and/or advocacy.