City should pick up bill in frauds, says group

LEGAL aid in corporate fraud trials should be paid for by the City's own regulators not the taxpayer, according to the Legal Action Group.

The suggestion comes in the pressure group's response to the Lord Chancellor's consultation paper on legal aid for the apparently wealthy. The group says media uproar over spiralling legal aid bills has been largely confined to criminal cases involving serious fraud.

City regulators should set up a special fund to pay for the defendants in serious fraud trials, the LAG submission suggests.

“The costs would fall upon those with the closest interest of the issues under investigation. This would have the advantage of providing an incentive for regulators and the bulk of those regulated to stamp out fraud.”

Issued in December, the consultation paper was a response to a “small number” of high profile cases where apparently wealthy people had received financial help.

Describing the paper as a “pot boiler”, LAG director Roger Smith says it makes no attempt to identify whether there really is a problem or whether it is just media hype.

In its response to the paper the LAG says much of the perceived problem could be solved by putting more resources into the checking of applications.

The submission says consideration should be given to a new special unit to examine the resources of applicants in serious fraud and suspected fraud cases.