Solicitor advocates one-stop shop is a sham, says Swift

A leading silk last week attacked government plans to extend rights of audience for solicitors in the higher courts, insisting that in practice the one-stop shop is a sham.

In June the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, said all solicitors would be granted rights of audience on their first day of admission and legislation is expected to be included in the Access to Justice Bill.

But Malcolm Swift QC, leader of the North Eastern Circuit, claimed the idea that solicitor advocates would handle cases from start to finish was false.

In his submission to Lord Irvine he said that junior members of a firm would attend magistrates' courts hearings before briefing the solicitor advocate for the better paid crown court work. Another solicitor may handle the committal proceedings which paid a “derisory” £73.50.

A Law Society spokesman said: “Two solicitors from one firm handling a case still provides more continuity than instructing outside counsel.”