Anti-legal aid lawyer faces court

A PROMINENT young Jersey lawyer is to be brought before the island's Royal Court, after refusing to do his quota of legal aid work.

The court will decide whether advocate Philip Sinel has breached his oath by boycotting the island's legal aid scheme, which he has branded as inefficient, selective and unfair.

In Jersey all advocates are expected to undertake legal aid work on a pro bono basis for the first 15 years of their career. The work is handed out via a rota system.

Advocate Peter Mourant, who is responsible for administering the system, said the tradition formed part of the oath of office sworn by all advocates before the Royal Court.

Sinel has so far refused to take on three cases.

He said: “I have extensive obligations to clients who pay fees, obligations which must surely rank in front of my obligations to persons with whom I have no pre-existing relationship.

“There is no rational basis upon which legal aid is allocated. It is allocated effectively on a rota basis without any form of account being taken of the actual burden of the case in question or of the merits of the applicant.”

A date is yet to be set for the Royal Court hearing.