Bills bills bills

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  • Under the Bar's Terms of Work the normal arrangements upon which barristers accept instructions from solicitors do not merely give rise to no enforceable debt but entirely negate the existence of legal relations between barrister and instructing solicitor (para.26).
    Even where the solicitor has been paid counsel’s fees there remains no debt due to counsel and no right of counsel to that money (Wells v Wells [1914] P157 at 163 “Counsel can no more sue for their fees when the solicitor has received the money than when he has not received it.”).
    Perhaps we should just go back to the practice of our predecessors - "cheque with brief". I've spent too many years providing interest free loans to solicvitors and their clients.

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  • Is this not a disciplinary matter which should be referred to the SRA?

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  • I'm a solicitor but I'm with the barristers on this one.
    When a law firm instructs an expert (be that a medical expert or whatever), said expert will expect payment within 30 days and almost always receives that money straight away. It's quite ridiculous that barristers have to wait an age to receive payment. Not only are barristers insurance policies for a firm - they also provide generous interest free holidays on payment for work despite being expected to produce that work a.s.a.p.
    Barristers are at the back of the queue for no reason other than they accept "tradition".

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  • If Counsel could sue for their unpaid bills, would they give up their own immunity from suit for negligent court work?
    In any event, I'm not sure what difference an enforceable contract would make in the Halliwells situation.

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  • On the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 being introduced on 1 July 2007 the professional obligation to pay Counsel was removed. As a result of the continuing spat between the Bar Council and the Law Society over the "new" contract arrangements the Black List system is no longer in use. However, most of the work (if not all) should be continued elsewhere.

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  • and the House of Lords removed barristers' immunity from suit in connection with negligent court work 8 years ago.

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