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Solicitors: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 13th May 2020.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to identify the number of (a) chambers and (b) solicitors firms facing financial difficulties due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the potential number of (a) chambers and (b) solicitors firms that will cease trading in the next (i) six months and (ii) twelve months due to financial pressures caused by the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We have maintained ongoing engagement with key representative bodies including the Law Society, Bar Council and other practitioner groups to identify the scale of the financial difficulties experienced across the legal services sector. This approach has enabled us to evaluate how the financial support from the Treasury is assisting the wider industry.

We have recently changed the rules around hardship payments, so that criminal legal aid practitioners can access payment for completed work sooner in a large number of additional cases, assisting the sector to continue operations during the crisis. We are also considering the wider issues relating to civil and criminal legal aid sustainability.

Our immediate priority is to enable workflow across the sector so that chambers and solicitors firms operate at increased capacity as soon as is practicable.

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