“The CPS needs to demonstrate that when proper account is taken of all their overheads, it really is cheaper than instructing the self-employed Bar. So far, we have not seen the figures...in the spirit of open government, I would invite them to produce the data and the calculations.”

Browne also reinforced the Bar’s opposition to hourly rates for publicly funded barristers in criminal trials, in his inaugural speech last month.

“Super-human efforts” were required to have a new Very High Cost Criminal Cases scheme outlined and ready for consultation by the New Year if it were to be in place by the time the existing one expires on 13 July 2009. In order to convince barristers that the scheme is workable it must be one that “rewards the efficient and the expeditious, rather than those who merely clock up the largest number of hours,” he said.