[JURIST] In an effort to reduce growing criminal legal aid expenses, the UK government laid before Parliament Tuesday a new strategy [DCA policy paper, PDF] to require law firms to compete with each other on price for bulk contracts with the Legal Services Commission [official website] to represent defendants in magistrates' and crown courts. The reforms are expected to save £7 million from the nation's £1.2 billion criminal defense spending. Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, said that bulk contracting would be more efficient, reducing costs in the most expensive murder and fraud cases, and preventing many different lawyers from traveling to courts for brief hearings. The UK Department for Constitutional Affairs has background materials. The Financial Times has more.