• A fixed fee element for the core tasks, which are assumed to account for about half of pre-trial preparation; the rest of the pretrial preparation fee is to be subject to negotiation and agreement
  • No requirement for advocates to join a panel, or to be part of a litigator’s team when they bid
  • Quality control of advocates dealt with via self-assessment and endorsement by litigators, with a Quality Assurance Scheme for
    Advocates to be tested early in 2009
  • A separate consultation will run in March 2009 which will consider the details of the advocate’s contract; however, it is thought that each contract will be case-specific.

Commenting on the proposals, Tim Dutton QC, former Chairman of the Bar, said:

‘I am very pleased that the steering group has produced a robust scheme, which is testament to the professionalism and goodwill which all involved have shown. In particular, the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw MP, has provided crucial momentum to the process of securing equitable and workable arrangements. The proposed scheme should provide a fair payment mechanism, which reflects the complexity of the cases in question, and the concomitant expertise required of those advocates who conduct them. It will deliver within budget.

It is vital for our justice system that these long and complex cases are conducted by the most qualified and experienced advocates – and that they are fairly remunerated for the work which they put in and the level of responsibility. Anything less would not be in the public interest.

Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, added: ‘The Criminal Bar Association welcomes these proposals, and I would urge all interested parties to respond to the consultation. VHCCs must be run in an efficient and effective way. It is vital that, as a profession, we provide accurate feedback to the steering group to enable them to assess the response to their proposals. This consultation offers the profession the chance to make their voice heard.’