YLAL has today (4 March 2016) responded to the consultation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on a proposed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which would serve as a common professional assessment for all intending solicitors. The stated purpose of the SRA's introduction of a standardised assessment at the point of qualification is in order to "ensure consistent high standards of entry into the profession, providing confidence to the public and employers".
Domestic violence evidence criteria: the Court of Appeal ruled that the regulation setting out the evidence criteria for victims of domestic violence applying for legal aid was invalid, insofar as it required evidence of domestic violence within a 24 month period before the application for legal aid and does not cater for victims of financial abuse.
January 2016 was a busy month in the legal aid world - here is our round-up of the latest legal aid news.
Criminal Legal Aid Contracts - An Update - January 2016
In October 2015, the Legal Aid Agency considered all the tenders that had been submitted for criminal legal aid duty contracts.
Legal Aid Mythbuster
We have produced a new and updated Legal Aid Mythbuster to correct common misconceptions and 'myths' about legal aid (which are often promoted by the government).
The Mythbuster addresses misleading spin about the cost of legal aid, the pay of legal aid lawyers, judicial review and comparisons between the legal aid system in England and Wales and other countries.
Law Care is a registered charity who provide support for the legal profession to cope with the demands of a legal career. More information can be found on their website here: http://www.lawcare.org.uk/
The Young Legal Aid Lawyers response to the Bar Standards Board Consultation on the Future of Training for the Bar: Academic, Vocational and Professional Stages of Training is available to download below.
Michael Gove scraps criminal courts charge - update by YLAL member Katie Tiley
The Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced last week that the controversial criminal courts charge, which has led to the resignations of dozens of magistrates, will be abolished from 24 December 2015.
The Court of Appeal ruled this week that the proposed residence test for civil legal aid is not unlawful, overturning the a judgment by the High Court last year that the secondary legislation implementing the test was ultra vires and unjustifiably discriminatory. The judgment is available here.
On Wednesday 11 November 2015, we hosted a special 'Introduction to Legal Aid' event at Garden Court Chambers in London. We were delighted to see a packed room of about 55 people, mostly students attending their first YLAL event or meeting. The PowerPoint presentation delivered at the event by our co-chairs, Ollie and Rachel, is attached below.