Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All Good Things Come To He Who Waits

I read a report today, and this report brought a great big smile to my face. The report was on the subject of demand induced supply. I am no economist or statistician but I understand the concept of demand induced supply to mean that the suppliers create their own demand and artificially stimulate a market for their own ends. I often rant and rave about things and recently I have been banging on about the Department for Constitutional Affairs report 'A Fairer Deal for Legal Aid'. I took a particular dislike to this report because it suggested that solicitors had taken advantage over past years and that they had driven the cost of criminal cases up to such an extent that they had reduced the funds available for the legal aid budget for civil cases.

'Demand Induced Supply? Identifying Cost Drivers in Criminal Defence Work' is a report commissioned by the Legal Services Commission and written by Professor Ed Cape and Professor Richard Moorhead. This report rubbishes the idea that solicitors were in control of the cost of criminal cases. The report concludes:

"Understanding how the interplay of broad criminal justice policy, prosecution practice and defence response impacts on criminal defence costs is not easy, particularly on the limited statistical information available at the moment. There is a need for more research and modelling of costs drivers. This would almost certainly need to involve the detailed examination of historical case records of both prosecution and defence, more in-depth analysis of criminal justice statistics and costs data available to the DCA and LSC, and consideration and testing of predictive mechanisms for cost analysis. It also requires significant political will. It is easy to understand the desire of government to reform criminal justice policy, without properly funding the defence side of the equation. Supplier-induced demand provides a convenient political justification for so doing. But our analysis shows that the system itself creates significant demand: it has increased the number and seriousness of cases being processed through the police stations and the courts and it has probably increased the volume of work that needs to be done on those cases. At the moment those demands are being met out of the civil legal aid fund, reductions in profitability for private practitioners or, perhaps most worryingly, reductions in the quality of service being provided to defendants."

At last someone has been able to show that the cost of an average case is determined more by the government than it is by the solicitor doing the work. Wake up Lord Chancellor, this report shows that if you want a fairer deal for legal aid you need to tell your fellow politicians to stop playing with the criminal justice system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

get back to work you slacker