Bar secures vital advocacy reassurance from Lord Chancellor

23 December 2014

The outgoing chairman of the Bar Council, Nicholas Lavender QC, has helped to secure reassurance from the Lord Chancellor that only those advocates with the sufficient training and experience will be able to represent defendants in the Crown Court.

The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, responding to a letter from the Bar Council chairman, also said the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Aid Agency will be cracking down "on referral fees and other inducements for the referral of a defendant to an advocate and to address any conflicts of interest and that measures would be taken to strengthen the prohibition of the payment of such fees."

Working with the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) and the Circuit Leaders, the Bar Council chairman had written to the Lord Chancellor about concerns raised by Sir Bill Jeffrey's review of Independent Criminal Advocacy, in which Sir Bill reported that barristers, "who are manifestly better trained as specialist advocates, are taking a diminishing share of the work, and are beaten neither on price nor on quality". In his letter to the Lord Chancellor, Nicholas Lavender QC called for action to ensure the best quality advocates are retained for criminal cases which are paid for out of public funds through legal aid.

In his response, the Lord Chancellor has stressed the importance of ensuring defendants have a choice of advocate.

Read the correspondence between the Bar Council chairman and the Lord Chancellor here and here.

 

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Notes to Editors

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board