Solicitors in Bury St Edmunds are demonstrating against government cuts in legal aid with a two-day walk out, fearing local firms could close as a result.
Seven legal firms are taking the first of two ‘training days’ as part of industrial action which will see huge disruption to courts in the area.
Sally Dale, a partner at Dale and Dunphy Solicitors, said the legal profession had been taken advantage of for too long.
She said: “We are going to start working to the rules.
“There has been a lot of good will in the system from solicitors, we are removing that good will for a couple of days.
“The government have brought in an 8.75 per cent cut imposed with about 20 days notice on rates that haven’t increased since the mid 1990s.
“They also want to reduce legal aid contracts for duty solicitors work to four firms.
“The fear is that big firms will come into the bid and local firms who know the system and know the courts to the most efficient level will be pushed out and local jobs will go.
“The idea of this demonstration is to cause a bit of disruption without letting the defendants down.
“We have every firm on the Bury St Edmunds duty roster supporting us.”
Duty solicitors have been sent to Bury Magistrates’ Court and Bury Police Investigation Centre to deal with urgent custody and remand cases.
Declan Gallagher, of Burnett Barker, said: “We have got 100 per cent unity on this in Bury St Edmunds.
“It is likely there will be four legal aid contacts available in Bury St Edmunds in the future - out of seven in terms of today’s actions.
“That means there is the chance of losing three firms immediately.
“People need to see that this matters. Nobody expects it but, if someone has a son or daughter who gets caught up in some trouble, do they want them to be on their own in the police station or court.”