Paying for criminal defence advocacy
Relations between Government and the Criminal Bar have not, in recent years been characterised by a great deal of warmth and mutual understanding. Indeed, criminal barristers went on strike recently against what they regarded as unfair policy on legal aid remuneration.
I am sure it would be overstating things to say that peace has now broken out between the Government and the Criminal Bar. But a new Consultation Paper on the remuneration of criminal defence advocates (including solicitor advocates) has been published which seems to be the fruit of close working relationship between the two sides.
Certainly the chairman of the Bar Council has welcomed the paper’s publication and has urged advocates to support the recommendations set out in the paper.
One of the key aims of the new proposals is to try to ensure that payments reflect actual work done by advocates on behalf of their clients.
The proposals also seek to reflect the changing nature of criminal trial practice as the criminal courts’ efficiency programme continues to develop.
The proposals also aim to give a sense of career progress to those who undertake criminal defence advocacy. Pay should be higher as experience is gained and more serious cases are undertaken.
The recommendations are not based on any increase in the amount of money available for paying advocates; but they are designed to be a rational response to the changing face of criminal advocacy and to take a fresh look at a payments system that was last looked at 20 years ago.
The details of the consultation – which runs till early March 2017, are at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/proposals-to-reform-criminal-defence-advocates-pay-published