Government figures show that the disparity in favour of defence advocates – usually in shorter cases – is up to 34 per cent in some instances. Lawyers and ministers believe that the higher fees now paid to defence advocates are affecting the standard and experience of lawyers available to take prosecution work.
The changes, due to be introduced over the next year, include a graduated fee scheme to reduce rates paid to defence lawyers and a unified scheme, broadly cased on the graduated fee scheme and covering all prosecution and defence cases of up to 25 days in length.
Attorney General, Lord Williams of Mostyn says he accepts that there is an "urgent need" to improve the lowest of CPS rates.
"The cases which will be paid at higher rates are at the lower end of the scale of seriousness, but by volume represent the bulk of the criminal cases prosecuted at the Crown Court," he says