Courts to stay open tomorrow despite lawyers' protest

The Bolton News: Darin Millar outside Bolton Crown Court with fellow lawyer Mike Garstang Darin Millar outside Bolton Crown Court with fellow lawyer Mike Garstang

BOLTON courts say they will keep their doors open tomorrow as lawyers stage the latest protest in their campaign to oppose changes to the legal aid system.

It is unclear whether all cases due to be heard at courts tomorrow will go ahead after members of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association opted to attend national training days instead of representing their clients.

The lawyers are angry at plans by the justice secretary Chris Grayling to reduce the number of law firms eligible to offer round-the-clock duty solicitor advice and representation at police stations and provide duty solicitors at magistrates court for defendants who do not have legal representation of their own.

Darin Millar, of Cyril Morris Arkwright solicitors in Chruchgate, Bolton town centre, was due to have staff from his firm representing defendants in four cases at crown courts tomorrow.

But the firm has now told clients its solicitors will not be there.

He said the move was not taken lightly.

Mr Millar added: “It is an undignified assault on the legal aid system. There is every chance that there will be no local firms in Bolton providing duty solicitor cover.”

Currently, about eight local solicitors’ firms take on duty solicitor work and say they know the area, the courts and the clients well.

Mr Millar added: “The government wants 17 firms that will be able to provide cover for the whole of Greater Manchester.

“There is a very strong likelihood that no local solicitors will be involved.”

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