CPS plans shake-up of 'preferred sets' system

The Crown Prosecution Service is proposing fundamental changes to the system of selecting barristers to do its prosecution work, just a month after cutting 11 sets from its “preferred sets” list, as exclusively revealed in The Lawyer (17 November 1998).
A CPS spokeswoman says: “The CPS has proposed that there should in future be access by all London branches to all preferred sets.” She says the issue is being put before the Bar at a meeting this week.
Michael Greenaway, sen-ior clerk at the leading criminal set Hollis Whiteman Chambers, says: “The problem with the present system is that every preferred set is restricted to quite a small catchment area and could go for several months, even years, without getting a decent case. Whereas another area might be getting up-wards of 20 cases.
“This is a restrictive practice which doesn't work. It has taken the CPS three years to realise that the biggest losers are themselves.”
A number of other proposals will be put forward at the Bar meeting, including the introduction of a grading system that would prevent junior barristers acting in more complex cases.
These proposals are likely to be well received by the 27 sets still entitled to do 80 per cent of all prosecution work, many of which have consistently argued for opening up the market to competition.