Alan Kurtz has become the first solicitor advocate to act as leading counsel in a criminal case with a barrister acting as his junior.
Kurtz, who is a consultant to the Middlesex firm Turbervilles, stepped in as lead counsel in a fraud case being heard at Southwark Crown Court after leave for a silk to appear was refused.
He then approached Peter Coombe, at 2 Harecourt Buildings, the chambers of Nigel Mylne QC. But Kurtz warned Coombe that he risked getting his leg pulled by colleagues at the Bar if he acted as a junior.
“Coombe said for the money he was prepared to get both legs pulled, which seemed to me to be a very reasonable attitude,” said Kurtz.
The pair represented one of six defendants charged with bringing US$965m of forged treasury bonds into the country in a case that lasted 84 days and ended in an acquittal for their client.
Kurtz said having a junior had proved to be an “unaccustomed luxury”.
As Turbervilles involvement in the case began when they were duty solicitors and finished with the firm providing leading counsel, Kurtz believes it shows that solicitors firms can now offer a complete service.
But Kurtz, who has been a solicitor since 1959, does not believe that his first signals the end of the Bar.
“I do not think any firm can have a sufficient number of solicitor advocates. There is always going to be a need for those with a higher degree of speciality,” he said.