After the immense criticism which has accompanied the charge on guilty defendants and the finding that it is not generating as much revenue as expected, there is now another proposal which can be perceived as unfair. The Justice Secretary is looking at a compulsory tax on the big City law firms’ turnover. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Mr Gove?
This suggestion is sure to be as controversial as the charge, as Alasdair Douglas, the chairman of the City of London Law Society, comments: “Suggestions of a special tax on only one section of the community to pay for a public service seems intellectually unsustainable.”
Top City law firms could face a compulsory tax to raise millions of pounds for the justice system in a deal with the Treasury to scrap a controversial charge on guilty defendants. Michael Gove, the justice secretary, is keen to ditch the criminal courts charge introduced by his predecessor, which has been imposed on all guilty defendants since April. Treasury officials are demanding that an alternative source of revenue replace the £65 million to £90 million a year that the charge should raise. Mr Gove is looking at a compulsory tax on the big City law firms’ turnover, in line with his view that the wealthiest parts of the justice system should help to redress its “indefensible inequalities”.