Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Rent seeking

From The Law Society Gazette:

The lord chancellor is to be represented at tomorrow’s appeal challenging a Crown court judge’s decision to throw out a major fraud trial for want of defence counsel, the Gazette has learned.

At the last minute, Chris Grayling has sought, and been granted, leave to be represented as an interested party in R v Crawley and Others, a case arising out of the Operation Cotton investigation.

He will be represented by joint head of chambers at Blackstone Chambers Anthony Peto QC and Peter Woodall, who joined the Public Defender Service last month from Carmelite Chambers.

At Southwark Crown Court earlier this month, His Honour Judge Anthony Leonard stayed the prosecution against five defendants in relation to an alleged £4.5m land banking fraud. The five defendants were represented pro bono by the prime minister’s brother Alex Cameron QC, head of chambers at 3 Raymond Buildings.

Following the refusal by barristers to accept the most serious criminal cases after the government cut fees by 30% (barristers claim the sum is 44%), no advocates could be found to take the case.


Reminding us yet again that the UK's so-called 'justice' or 'legal' system is a complete and utter joke, and has got very little to do with 'justice;' or 'laws'.

For the self-selecting and largely 'upper class' people who are supposed to be running it, it is just an excuse to hand each other large piles of taxpayers' money. And dress up in silly outfits just to see if they can get away with it.

Barristers also boast about being like taxi drivers, just so that you can't say you weren't warned.

7 comments:

Bayard said...

Although I can never see how lawyers justify their fees, if private citizens are prepared to pay them, then that's the going rate and there's no reason why they should charge any less, simply because their client is being funded out of the public purse.
Much more to the point, why are these people getting legal aid anyway?

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

But if you're facing a criminal trial, you need them. And you need ones that are as good or better than the prosecution's. And there isn't really much of a market for barristers because the barriers to entry are too high.

And the reason they need legal aid is because the government froze their assets. They're temporarily broke.

The Stigler said...

as a general point, lawyers fall into the "never trust people with fancy offices and suits" rule (see also banks and FSAs) which is designed to create the illusion of respectability over any actual value.

SumoKing said...

-declares conflict - is lawyer-

well yes, there are very high barriers to entry into law and a closed shop is operated both by the Solicitors Guild and the Barrister's Union, neither of which are worth the wads of Danegeld they demand.

A majority of legal aid was privatised under the last government which resulted in poor people being able to sue when they got the usual crap service or dodgy goods prevelant in the UK. Fortunately after a great deal of lobbying by mostly foreign insurance companies that has been completely gutted and your granny can now die of gangrene without any hope of recourse.

The criminal legal system has also been decimated with the right to recover your legal costs if you are successful in proving your innocence (as 60% of laws require) has been done away with to spare an incompetent CPS.

(incidentally and paradoxically, the only thing operating to make laws a bit simpler is the EU since in an international business setting you can pretty much assume that say Swedish and UK data protection and Consumer protection laws will be about the same)

If the closed shop system of lawyers was abolished the cost of justice would decline quite steeply and the fixed fee regime would accelerate.

If the MOJ had also not completely raped the barely proposed idea of contingency fees making it still born we might have that to also take the sting out of the legal funding.

(and I will not even get into investments in litigation/3rd party funding etc)

Bayard said...

"But if you're facing a criminal trial, you need them. And you need ones that are as good or better than the prosecution's"

Who are crap, according to our resident lawyer (see comment above).

"And the reason they need legal aid is because the government froze their assets. They're temporarily broke"

Wouldn't it have been simpler to thaw their assets enough to allow them to pay for a defence?

"with the right to recover your legal costs if you are successful in proving your innocence (as 60% of laws require) has been done away with to spare an incompetent CPS."

I expect that that is now effectively the case, too (guilty until proved innocent). Totally unsurprised about the government changing the rules so that you can't get your money back (unless you are a passenger on The Gravy Train, of course).

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, TS, there is no "free market" price for being represented in court; there are few "free market' alternatives to going to court (or being taken to court).

It is judges who decide how much they get, because it is judges who award costs, which is usually "Everything they ask for plus ten per cent for luck". Sure, there are guideline rules on this somewhere, but they say "Everything they ask for plus ten per cent".

There's no reason why judges can't cap costs for both parties.

TS, yes, good rule.

SK, exactly, thanks for gory details.

SumoKing said...

It is judges who decide how much they get, because it is judges who award costs, which is usually "Everything they ask for plus ten per cent for luck". Sure, there are guideline rules on this somewhere, but they say "Everything they ask for plus ten per cent".

In civil litigation cases (so suing cases) rule of thumb is 75%-80%, which predictably used to result in checking files to see if there was an extra 30% that could be bolted on.

And if you were on a no win no fee you could have up to 100% success fee on that to cover the risk of losing and getting nothing, though you would have to justify that percentage, unless it was the fixed, erm, 15%(have not checked part 45 of the cpr) pre trial, 100% at trial in injury cases.

In the old system you weighed the file and came up with a number.

Now, to reduce costs, you need to spend an extra couple of hours crafting a budget to be endorsed by the court and you have to attend an extra court hearing to get the budget endorsed, Judicial thinking on how to control costs at its best (thank you Jackson Reforms).