'Bizarre' legal aid league table confuses lawyers

LEGAL aid practitioners are expressing bewilderment at a “meaningless” league table of top earning firms which has prompted one “big earner” to reveal partnership salaries of less than £20,000.

The league tables for firms and barristers were sent to Labour MP Frank Field by John Taylor, parliamentary secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department.

Field is reported to be “amazed” by the amounts paid to firms as revealed by the table, which has the top firm receiving £3.24 million from the Legal Aid Board in the financial year 1993/4.

Legal aid practitioners are astonished conclusions can be drawn from the tables, which do not name the firms because of fears over accuracy.

Tony Edwards, of London firm TV Edwards, believes his firm is “almost certainly” on the list.

“There's no way I can compare our figures with the tables as they exclude payments on account but include VAT and disbursements which aren't payments we receive.”

TV Edwards is joined by Fisher Meredith and Magrath & Co in proclaiming the tables both bizarre in the way they are calculated and irrelevant because they do not reveal actual earnings.

Edwards is happy to outline his firm's accounts for the same year. The profit cost figure was £1.453 million with the five partners receiving less than £20,000 each in what he admits was a bad year for them.