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How is Justice done, and how it is paid for, in the time of Covid-19?

8 February 2021

The House of Commons Justice Committee, which scrutinises the policies and work of the Ministry of Justice, is to hold a third evidence session in its inquiries into Court Capacity and The Future of Legal Aid at 2.30pm on Tuesday, 9 February 2021.

Purpose of the session

The number and length of delays in court cases has grown considerably due to the covid-19 pandemic. The session will ask practising criminal solicitors and barristers how these delays have affected their work. Questions are expected in a range of areas, including but not limited to: 

  • Whether delays cause injustice 
  • How the Court Service’s ‘Recovery Plan’ to counter covid-19 delays is faring
  • How the introduction of extra court space in ‘Nightingale Courts’ has impacted on the capacity of the courts
  • The debate over virtual hearings and the impact of other information technology on the judicial process

The evidence session will also examine the future of legal aid, with a particular focus on the experience of criminal lawyers that do a significant amount of legal aid work. It will focus on the day to day experience of practitioners of criminal law and possible solutions to the challenges they are facing. Areas of questioning (indicative examples only) include: 

  • The impact of covid-19 (and information technology fixes to mitigate its effects) on the Legal Aid sector
  • How the availability or otherwise of Legal Aid affects the dispensation of justice
  • A long-term view on how the historic cuts in Legal Aid implemented through Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) (LASPO) affected the sector
  • The impact of LASPO and covid-19 on incomes, diversity and other aspects of the legal professions
  • How reviews of the situation – including the current Criminal Legal Aid Review – might address these issues


Tuesday 9 February

At 2.30pm

  • Daniel Bonich, Chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and Managing Partner at Clarke Kiernan Solicitors LLP
  • James Mulholland QC, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association and barrister at 23 Essex Street Chambers
  • Hollie Collinge, Solicitor Advocate, Kelly’s Solicitors
  • Emma Fenn, barrister at Garden Court Chambers

Further information

Image: MoJ