Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barristers' Anger as CPS Prefers Cut-Price Solicitors; Warning Cry: Dutton, Chairman of the Bar, Is Unhappy about Magistrates' Courts Using Staff Who Are Not Legally Qualified

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barristers' Anger as CPS Prefers Cut-Price Solicitors; Warning Cry: Dutton, Chairman of the Bar, Is Unhappy about Magistrates' Courts Using Staff Who Are Not Legally Qualified

Article excerpt

Byline: JOSHUA ROZENBERG

EVEN allowing for the odd patch of under-employment," said the incomingchairman of the Bar last night, "the indications are that society in the UKwants barristers more and not less".

Timothy Dutton QC sounded pretty bullish as he delivered his inaugural addressto the Bar Council. When he joined the profession in 1979, there were around5000 barristers. Now, there are 15,000all but 3500 of them practising individually as self-employed consultants.

Like actors, practising barristers are notoriously anxious about where the nextengagement will come from. Most will be reassured to hear their new leaderplaying down his reference to under-employment. "I think the Bar is in ahealthy position," Dutton tells me.

"The civil side of the Bar is thriving." Indeed so. "Work comes in differentways these days buttouch woodwe have plenty of it," says Julia Hornor of Blackstone Chambers. "The juniorshere are very busy and some of our Silks are almost completely booked up toEaster," adds Michael Kaplan of 4-5 Gray's Inn Square.

Some of that may result from the current credit squeeze. "When the economyshifts in the way it has done," Dutton explains, "work on the civil sideincreases. There is much greater regulatory activity and there are moredefaults." But things are very different at the Criminal Bar. Prosecutors arelosing work to in-house advocates at the Crown Prosecution Service. Defencecounsel watch the bread being taken from their mouths by solicitor-advocates.

And, most alarming of all, if clause 86 of the Criminal Justice and ImmigrationBill is approved by Parliament then cases will be conducted in magistrates'court by CPS staff who are not legally qualified at all.

That is not in the public interest, the new Bar chairman says. Trying to put abrave face on inroads into his members' earnings, he stresses that the Bar "isstill doing 89%, by value, of prosecution work". …

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