The Law Society has now launched legal action against cuts to fees paid to defence lawyers for reading criminal evidence, by warning that changes will lead to potential miscarriages of justice.
The body represents solicitors in both England and Wales, and has begun to review proceedings that challenge the decision made by the Ministry of Justice to reduce legal aid payments from last October.
Estimates predict that it will reduce payments by 5-6% across crown court trials.
The case follows concern over rapid expansions in the volume of material involved in cases derived from digital technology and failures to disclose crucial evidence to defendants in rape trials.
The cuts were instigated by defiance of a consultation process, in which 97% of respondents opposed the changes.
Before October 2017, the MoJ’s formula in the ‘litigators graduated fee scheme’ rewarded criminal solicitors for reading up to 10,000 pages of material. The reduction has occurred due to evidence now being sourced from mobile phones and laptops becoming more common.