Lack of Duty Solicitors Will Mean Innocent People Found Guilty

Lauren Pritchard- Law Student

The Law Society has warned a substantial lack of new duty solicitors may lead to a lack of adequate legal advice and representation.

Richard Miller, head of justice at the Law Society described the legal system as “creaking at the seams”. Approximately half of duty solicitors in England and Wales are over 50. Of the 6,104 duty solicitors in England and Wales only 11% are aged under 35.

Solicitors dealing with this area of work have not seen a pay increase since 1998.

The duty solicitor fee has seen no increase since 1998 and was cut by 8.75% in 2014

In some areas the rate is as low as £172 per job. This could involve many hours work.

One solicitor, claimed people are already being questioned at police stations without representation – even though they have the right to free legal advice – due to shortages of duty solicitors.

Staffordshire University operates a legal advice clinic (“SULAC”) to provide free legal advice to people in the local community as well as to certain specific sectors.

SULAC was launched on 1st October 2018. It is a clinic manned, primarily, by active law students; supervised and supported by lecturers, in house qualified solicitors and local Solicitors and Barristers.

In light of the significant reduction in legal aid, access to justice is being eroded. Many people find themselves in situations where they need legal advice but simply cannot access that advice, usually due to cost. Clinics like SULAC are, therefore, essential to bridge the gap.

SULAC provides free legal advice (term time only) to:

  • The general public in Stoke and Stafford
  • Officers and staff of HMP Stafford
  • Patients, visitors and staff at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
  • Constituents of Gareth Snell MP
  • Patients and relatives referred from Macmillan Cancer Support

SULAC covers the below areas of law:

  •  Employment
  • Consumer issues
  • Housing
  • Personal Injury
  • Family law

SULAC does not deal with criminal or immigration matters or provide debt counselling.

Organisations such as SULAC are vital in ensuring that people from all socio-economic backgrounds are able to access free legal advice and ensure they have access to justice. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

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