The chairman of the Bar Council has written to the Ministry of Justice to say that without a ‘dual commitment’ to index-linked increases in the new fees for advocates and regular reviews barristers would have ‘no-confidence’ in proposed reforms.
As reported in LegalVoice here, the Bar gave their qualified support to the plans in the MoJ’s consultation to the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme.
In a separate letter to the MoJ, Andrew Langdon QC takes exception to the MoJ’s lack of collaboration with the profession on the issue of costs neutrality. The silk pointed out that 2014/2015 was the year that costs would be fixed.’However, subsequent to the collaborative working process and, without our knowledge or involvement, the ministry chose to calculate what the subsequent year 2015/2016 would have cost if the new scheme had been in force. The answer apparently is the new scheme would have cost three per cent less.’
According to Langdon, the ‘unforeseen and unintended outcome’ was ‘unfortunate and a failure to absorb this outcome and to reflect it in the size of the envelope against which cost neutrality is sought, will run contrary to the spirit of all our work,’ he said.
‘Cost neutrality is not an appropriate way of addressing the future of advocacy in the Crown Court,’ Langdon wrote. ‘The present AGFS is underfunded having suffered a succession of significant cuts over many years. The cuts are bigger than in any comparable field of remuneration by public funds. There are serious consequences of underfunding… . We have repeatedly set them all out for you.’
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