Law Soc slams Govt fraud trial measure

The Law Society has hit out at new Government proposals suggesting that judges be allowed to dismiss defendants’ advisers in very high-cost fraud trials.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) consultation paper, published last week (4 August), proposed that judges should be given the power to order the withdrawal of a defendant’s lawyer in cases where there appears to be a risk of a conflict of interest, or where it is considered that the barrister or solicitor lacks the skills to ensure an efficient trial.

The Law Society said the proposals were unnecessary as it already has regulations covering conflicts of interest.

A Law Society spokes- person said: “Solicitors are professionals who are well versed in making decisions in line with their professional duties, which include not acting where there is a conflict of interest.

“It is incorrect to assume that a firm representing more than one client is necessarily breaching conflict of interest rules.”

The consultation only concerns Very High Cost Cases scheduled to last more than 41 days, which tend to be high-value fraud, money laundering and other white-collar crime issues.