Firm pulls out of legal aid system

A major legal firm is to stop giving advice to asylum seekers under the legal aid system, two weeks after Asylum Aid warned that the system faced meltdown.

The charity said many voluntary sector advisers had given up because of government restrictions on legal aid for asylum seekers (Third Sector, 23 March).

Philip Trott, a partner at Bates Wells and Braithwaite, said Asylum Aid was right to warn of chaos. "It is with heavy hearts that we withdraw from our franchise at the end of this month," he said. "But we would rather provide advice pro bono than under the present system."

Government intervention, such as a reduction in the time in which a legal adviser has to apply for further funds and the new accreditation exams for publicly funded legal advisers, cost extra money in fees and training.

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