independent professional staff association for UK forces personnel

Cuts: 'Armed forces to lose one in four of their lawyers'

The armed forces are set to lose one quarter of their lawyers, in a series of cuts that lawyers say could directly impact frontline troops. The Guardian reports that:

Sources inside the armed forces say the defence spending and security review will result in a reduction of at least 25% in the number of lawyers in the army and royal air force.

Lawyers say the predicted reduction in legal advice, which will affect troops and commanders, could affect the ability of the armed forces to act in compliance with the Geneva conventions...

Cuts to army lawyers are part of a wider move to reduce the number of legal advisers throughout Whitehall, prompting critics to question whether a reduction in advice will leave the government open to greater legal challenges in future.

"A legal department focused on risk management starts not with a shopping list of the lawyers it wants, or the number it needs to lose, but the risks it needs to cover, said Eduardo Reyes from the Law Society Gazette, who has been following the story closely.

According to the Gazette, which has been following the cuts in Army Legal Services, army lawyers of all ranks in the army's 120 lawyers, and the RAF's 35 lawyers, will be affected by the cuts.

"Many would accept that public spending cuts are needed," said Khawar Qureshi QC, a barrister specialising in international law. "But if cuts come in this area, there is an attendant risk which must be carefully assessed."

"Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan and other conflict zones may need real-time guidance and their actions may need to be rapidly assessed for compliance with convention obligations."

The MoD described the claims as "speculation" ...

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