Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Office of Fair Trading and Affordable Justice

The Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates have rejected a call for an enquiry into affordable justice. At the risk of being sued, well its no risk really because I'm skint, I would simply ask readers to go to the website of the Scottish Legal Aid Board and have a root around until you find a complete listing of all of the amounts paid out in legal aid to both firms of solicitors and individual advocates. It's all on the website year by year in their reports but you have to dig deep to get at it. When you do you will see that some of these people are greedy beyond belief.

There is one advocate of distinctive appearance in 2003/4 who earned over £305,000 including VAT according to the legal aid board. I believe he might do a bit of cabaret to make ends meet. I've seen the video if you get my drift (that joke was strictly for Scottish readers in case you are mystified).

Over £100,000 is not uncommon and several others top £200,000 including some who threatened to strike for higher fees in 2005. Now I would normally be inclined to support strikes (it's a red thing) but I think I might not have given that one my best efforts.

The other thing to remember is that these are only payments from the Scottish Legal Aid Board, in other words, this is what they were paid for representing people who had not the means to pay, so I assume it does not include corporate work, work on public enquiries, work for the better off, or work on behalf of the Crown as advocate deputes in charge of prosecutions rather than defence.

We are starting to see why an enquiry into affordable justice might just be a good idea. I wonder how much they earn in total. Some of them must be on nearly a million pounds a year and that is obscene when legal aid is being cut back for poor people who find it increasingly difficult to enforce their rights against corporate bodies who can afford a long strung out defense (such as the tobacco manufacturers have used in the USA for years, don't let it come here).


The Cynic said...


The only problem in what you say is that if you cut back payment to these so-called "Fat-Cats" then there will be even less lawyers anfd advocates prepared to do Legal Aid work.

Certainly it seems that there have been more recent reforms to Legal Aid and that this only makes it even more bureaucratic than it already was. That too might tempt some others to give up Legal Aid work.

These changes might or might not save money at the end of the day

The people most likely to lose out there are usually those in need of representation but least able afford it

red mist said...

cynic--One way to cut back is to remove the monopoly of the faculty of advocates in the High Court. We have already introduced the office of solicitor advocate with rights of audience in the high court and that has not proved to be a failure. Give all solicitors the right of audience and when the monopoly is broken the prices will fall. They are all working to the same laws.

There could also be a system whereby rights of audience in any court was dependent on availability for legal aid work at fair rates of pay. If you want the cream then you have to be prepared to take on the rest. I realise that this would be a restriction, but rights of audience can already be denied for not wearing a wig, so it's hardly punitive in the light of other reasons for withdrawal of rights of audience