Nearly sixty Crown Court cases listed for Londonderry have been held up due to an ongoing legal aid dispute between the Department of Justice and lawyers.
The set-back to the administration of justice locally was outlined by the Justice Minister David Ford in response to an Assembly Question tabled by Lord Morrow.
The Minister first published proposals aimed at reducing the cost of civil legal aid by up to £4 million a year in 2012.
He’s been at loggerheads with the legal profession ever since. But what effect is that having here?
Lord Morrow asked “how many Crown Court cases in the Londonderry Court Division are currently stymied as a result of counsel coming off record, or refusing to act as a result of the new legal aid fees?”
The Minister revealed: “Up to and including the 4 October 2015 there were 58 cases in the Division of Londonderry in which either the solicitor or counsel came off record or the defence has been unable to engage counsel due to the Legal Aid dispute.”