Monday, 20 January 2014

Independent Bar v Public Defender Scheme: Just what is going on?

See this advert - Job Description - Queen's Counsel, Senior Higher Courts Advocates and Junior Higher Courts Advocates

The Ministry of Justice is managing a recruitment process for these posts in the Public Defender Service.  Salaries range from £46036 to £125000.  This service is being expanded at the same time as the government's legal aid proposals (i.e. cuts) are likely to make practice at the independent criminal bar unviable, particularly for younger barristers.  It would appear that the government would prefer to have a panel of lawyers in their pay rather than to encourage the fully independent criminal lawyer to survive.  The true reasons for this can only be guessed at.  I know what I think!  The salaries on offer (and other benefits such as leave and pension scheme) will no doubt prove irresistible to some because most independent lawyers working on criminal legally aided cases are by no means the "fat cats" which the Ministry of Justice has portrayed them to be.

More about the PDS
may be read in this case study.  Lawyers in the PDS operate to a Code of Practice issued under section 29 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Ministry of Justice has announced the appointment of two more Queen's Counsel to the PDS.

Here is a little of the Twitter reaction .....

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