Leading civil liberties and human rights set Tooks Chambers has announced today (23 Sept) that it is to wind up its operations as a ‘direct result of government policies on legal aid’, following months of speculation surrounding its future.
In a statement published on its website this afternoon, the 30-year old set, which has been involved in tackling many high profile miscarriages of justice, including currently advising on the Hillsborough inquest, was scathing about the government’s legal aid cuts, saying: ‘The public service we provide is dependent on public funding. 90% of our work is publicly funded. The government policies led by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling are cumulatively devastating the provision of legal services and threatening the rule of law.’
Headed by Michael Mansfield QC, the 50-lawyer, five-QC chambers has said it will continue to accept briefs until it winds up operations on 11 October, following which it will formally be dissolved on Friday 27 December, allowing time to ‘ensure all past work is billed and fees are collected.’
Individual barristers will continue to practise and to represent their clients, and will be making arrangements for the continuation of their practices ‘so that the interests of their clients will not be affected.’
In an indication that some barristers from the set may continue to practise using an alternative delivery method, the statement continued: ‘Michael Mansfield QC and others are actively pursuing the possibility of reconfiguring resources in order to create a new and alternative working model based on an electronic hub and a compact physical space. This is particularly intended to support publicly funded practitioners who are committed to continuing the struggle for social justice both inside and outside the courts.’
Having been called to the Bar in 1967 and acknowledged as having ‘one of the best-respected defence practices at the criminal Bar’ by the Legal 500, Mansfield QC is the barrister for the families of Stephen Lawrence, Jean Charles de Menezes and Dodi Al-Fayed in relation to the circumstances surrounding the death of his son Dodi and Princess Diana.
Tooks Chambers did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing.