Commenting on the development, Bar Council Chairman 2009, Desmond Browne QC said:

“Today’s consultation paper drives a coach and horses through two years of patient and careful negotiation to develop a sound advocates’ pay scheme for the most complex terror and murder trials. By looking to impose a short-term, unevaluated, cost-cutting scheme, Ministers are guilty of precisely the short-comings flagged up in last Friday’s National Audit Office report on value for money in
legal aid. Our alternative advocates’ scheme is capable of reflecting the varying characteristics of individual cases, while giving the Government control and predictability in the
cost to the public purse.

The profession’s anger and dismay at this last-minute change of heart by Ministers cannot be exaggerated.”

Paul Mendelle QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, added:

“The most serious trials need the most skilled advocates, and that requires a pay scheme that will keep them within the system.

Today’s announcement will be greeted with intense frustration by all of those who have worked so hard to develop a workable scheme for advocates which reflects the particular character and demands of each case, while assuring cost control and reducing bureaucracy. We urge the Government to think again before introducing such a crude approach to resourcing some of the most sensitive cases before our courts. Members of the Criminal Bar will understandably question the Government’s commitment to a justice system that reflects the importance the public attaches to seeing serious alleged offences properly tried.”