Since her call in 2005 Nichola Higgins (scroll down for video interview) has gained a reputation as a rising star both in terms of her work at the criminal bar in high profile and complex matters, and also representing the profession as a member of the Bar Council.
Higgins has significant experience of white collar crime with particular expertise acting as junior counsel for the SFO in fraud and corruption cases. She has wide experience as a defence counsel in cases involving serious violence, organised crime and extradition. Recent notable cases include the so-called ‘Facebook grass’ attempted murder case and the SFO prosecution of Mishcon de Reya partner Kevin Steele. She began her career at 15 New Bridge Street, but in 2012 moved to Doughty Street Chambers.
While having such a mixed practice has its advantages, both sides of her practice are publicly funded and as chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales, in 2011 she was deeply involved in the battle with the government over the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
“The real battle over legal aid was back in 2011,” she says. “This year has seen its implementation and the campaign by the Criminal Bar Association to take the reality of the situation to the public.”
The focus for 2012 has been on the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates developed by the Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Ilex Professional Standards, which Higgins says has “significant flaws”. Expect to see a lot more from this talented barrister in 2013.