The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Legal Aid - A Guest Blog by Learner

Legal aid is clearly a target for further cuts. The proposed executive agency under the MoJ makes it even more subject to ministerial control and inevitably an easier candidate for cost cutting.

The current spend is about £2bn p.a but what is not well known is that almost half gets spent on a mere five percent of court cases. The magistrates courts, well known to readers of the Magistrate's Blog, account for 95% of criminal prosecutions yet incur about 55% of the £2bn. The rest is spent on long, high profile trials in the higher courts. 5% of the cases gets 45% of the spend.
So what happens in the magistrates' court is that we have to spend more time to assist the unrepresented defendant, slowing down the courts and adding expense. If ever there was a case for a proper cost benefit analysis, this is it. And just in case the bureaucrat who did it last time reads this, please allocate some element of a cost to the time attributed to the magistrates themselves as well as the court. Even though the mags cost little, we do deserve to be considered!

(Learner is a long-standing friend who has been a JP for over thirty years)