Last month I wrote about the case of R v Crawley and others and the landmark decision to stay the proceedings in respect of a multi million pound fraud due to difficulties in securing barristers to represent the defendants. The problems arose as a result of a 30 per cent cut to the fees paid to barristers for VHCC matters (Very High Cost Cases). Since the announcement of the cuts in December 2013, barristers have refused to accept work in respect of those types of cases.
Last week though the stay of proceedings was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Ministry of Justice have confirmed that they are implementing emergency measures to recruit further advocates for the Public Defender Service (a department within the Legal Aid Agency that provides advice and presentation for defendants) to ensure that there are sufficient qualified and experienced advocates to represent the defendants. As such, the case is now to be further listed for trial although the Court of Appeal did not rule out the possibility that there may come a time when a lack of representation could result in the proceedings being further stayed.
Although the Court of Appeal did not become entrenched in the current debate regarding fee cuts, it was commented that:
“it is of fundamental importance that the MoJ led by the Lord Chancellor and the professions continue to try to resolve the impasse that presently stands in the way of the delivery of justice in the most complex of cases: this will require effort by both sides. The maintenance of a criminal justice system of which we can be proud depends on a sensible resolution of the issues that have arisen”
This will not be the last case of this type and so this is likely to be a common problem unless the matter is resolved.
At Farleys we have a team of criminal defence solicitors who specialise in serious crime and fraud. Our fraud lawyers can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on all areas of serious crime.
If you have been accused of involvement in relation to a fraud offence, or indeed serious crime in any capacity, it is vital that you speak to a criminal defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity. For advice via our 24 hour emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.