News in brief 12 January 2017

Vote now for your next Council member

Members have until noon on Wednesday 18 January to vote in the election for the position of ordinary Council member. There are four nominees: Leanne Egan, Paul Jones, Francis Kendall and Simon Murray.

Only Costs Lawyers who are current members of the Association and who hold a current practising certificate are entitled to vote.

If you have not received your voting paper, please contact enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk.

 

Lord Chief Justice warns firms to prepare for change

Lawyers have to confront the fact that legal services will be “organised and delivered very differently” in the future, the Lord Chief Justice has said.

In a speech to last month’s Legal Wales conference, Lord Thomas – a Welshman himself – spoke in the context of what lawyers in Wales needed to do, but his words clearly applied to all.

“For example, it is probably correct to say that, as soon as we have better statistical information, artificial intelligence using that statistical information will be better at predicting the outcome of cases than the most learned Queen’s Counsel.

“There are other changes. It may be the case that the procurement of legal services will no longer be through the traditional large firm model but by the decomposition of work and the re-sourcing of it. I think there is absolutely no doubt the progress we have seen in the medical profession, the use of a large number of well-qualified nurses and paramedics reinforced by technology and easy access, will be something that will happen to the legal profession.”

 

Proposed AGFS fees split legal profession

The Bar Council and the Young Barristers’ Committee have welcomed proposals published last week by the Ministry of Justice to reform the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS). However, solicitors are not so happy.

The barristers said that the new regime, if implemented, would mean barristers’ fees were no longer based on “outdated and distorting factors such as the number of pages in a case, but instead are paid according to the seriousness and complexity of the work”.

They said the proposals included:

– Fees based on the seriousness and complexity of the work done;

– Restoration of separate payments for plea and trial preparation hearings, sentence and mentions;

– Restoration of payment for the second day of every trial;

– Payment of £300 for trials which become ineffective;

– No more arguments over the service of material as evidence;

– A near four-fold increase in offence categories to capture the seriousness and complexity of cases;

– Restoration of career progression – earnings increase as the work becomes more challenging; and

– Encouragement for advocates with the necessary skills to take on more complex cases.

Duncan McCombe, chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee, said: “It goes without saying that no scheme is going to be absolutely perfect. There are a few modest drops in the base amounts for payments for some cases, but the clear advantage is that young barristers will be paid for their time in court, rather than being paid on an arbitrary basis, and will paid for each appearance rather than feeling like every other case is a loss leader.”

However, the Law Society said the proposals would see QCs benefit at the expense of more junior barristers and solicitor-advocates.

President Robert Bourns said: “The government should be investing in the early part of the process as this would reduce the number of cases that go to full trial. Yet the proposed scheme incentivises late changes to defendants’ pleas, drawing out the process and running against the government’s aims of encouraging early guilty pleas.

“Meanwhile, already well-paid QCs look set for a pay increase of around 10%. The advocates towards the bottom of the pay scale – more junior barristers and solicitors – will either stay the same or receive much smaller increases.”

The society pulled out of talks over the scheme in December, citing “restrictions” on how information was shared “which meant it was not possible for us to contribute to the process in a meaningful way”.

 

 

This post was posted in ACL e-Bulletin

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Costs News
Published date
20 Jan 2017

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