Bar action — barristers and solicitors voice concern over defence fee proposals
By Michelle Heeley
On 7 March, many members of the criminal bar did not attend court. This was not a decision taken lightly, but one designed to highlight the concern that barristers and solicitors have about the proposed new defence fees.
The government, after months of consultation, has announced cuts to fees in the region of 17.5 per cent for solicitors and, on average, six per cent for barristers. One cannot view these figures as standalone cuts though; they must be taken in context with the fact that since 2007 there has been no increase in fees. This means in real terms fees have decreased by more than 20 per cent — and that’s before the imposition of these further cuts.
Most solicitors firms operate on a profit margin of five to six per cent — these cuts mean that redundancies are inevitable, fewer solicitors will have to try and deal with more cases, salaries will be reduced and experienced practitioners will look elsewhere for work leading to inexperienced solicitors dealing with ever-more complicated cases…
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