Monday, October 13th 2014 8:46pm
A report from the Council of Europe has found that Britain has among the most Solicitors and the highest legal aid spending of any European country with British judges some of the highest-paid in Europe.
The UK's legal aid budget was just over £2bn compared with France's £290m and Germany's £272m while the European average was just £97m.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We have always said that we had one of the most expensive legal aid systems… even after reform we will still have a very generous system at around £1.5bn a year."
Law Society Defends Solicitors And Attacks Cuts To Legal Aid
However, the president of the Law Society, Andrew Caplen argued: "The inquisitorial system used in Europe means that the cost of investigations falls more on judges' budgets than lawyers and so countries' systems cannot be compared like for like. The cuts to legal aid in England and Wales are having a detrimental effect to access to justice. Six hundred thousand people have lost access to civil legal aid."
The Council of Europe figures also reveal that the UK courts have fewer female judges than almost anywhere in Europe. The data sees the home nations ranked alongside Azerbaijan and Armenia in terms of sexual equality at the top of the judiciary.
Some 25.2% of judges in England and Wales in 2012 were women, and 22.2% and 21.6% in Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively. Only Azerbaijan had lower female representation than Scotland at 10.5%. Armenia had a total of 21.9% female judges. Earlier this year, Britain's only female Supreme Court judge called for more gender equality across the legal system. Baroness Hale said: "There has only ever been one female Head of Division and in the Supreme Court there is still only me. It speaks volumes."
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