Jersey advocate gets legal aid reprimand

A PROMINENT young lawyer has been reprimanded by Jersey's Royal Court for refusing to accept legal aid work on three separate occasions.

Advocate Philip Sinel had originally taken a stand against the island's legal aid system, denouncing it as inefficient, selective and unfair.

But when brought before the Superior Number of the Royal Court – the island's highest court – Sinel said he had misunderstood the system and apologised to the court.

The Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Philip Bailhache, who is head of the island's judiciary, said the advocate had been guilty of a serious breach of his professional duty by failing to represent clients under the legal aid system.

“We deliver a reprimand accordingly,” said Bailhache, adding that the court's reasons for its decision would be issued at a later date.

All Jersey advocates are required to undertake legal aid work for the first 15 years of their professional career, a duty that is in accordance with the oath of office they swear before the Royal Court.

Advocate Sinel originally believed this duty to be voluntary but told the court that further research had led him to discover that the Jersey Bar had confirmed in 1904, and again in 1936, “that advocates of less than 15 years' standing shall do legal aid”.