Posts Tagged ‘ Her Majesty’s Counsel ’


Written by admin
August 17th, 2019

The latest stealthy slice to be taken out of the criminal justice system comes in the form of a reduction of Crown Court hearing days.

We all know that to run a Crown Court is expensive.  We all know that to close a Crown Court will save money.  Unfortunately, closing a Crown Court means that cases are not heard, which has very little cost in financial terms but often huge costs in terms of the effect on defendants, complainants and witnesses, their emotions and their general wellbeing. It also means of course that neither Counsel nor solicitors are in a position to submit a bill, because a hearing has been postponed and the case has not been finished.  In some courts this means that the case will have to be put off for another eight or nine months, awaiting a trial slot. This inevitably means that the expense of prosecuting the case and defending it is moved skilfully into another tax year.

How many Crown Court hearing days do you think have been cut from the next Crown Court year?  Perhaps you think 1,000, or maybe 2,000, maybe as many as 5,000 – but surely not as that would obviously be unjust.  Perhaps you think 7,500 or even 10,000, but yet again, surely both of those figures are utterly unbelievable.  If you were to think 15,000, in short, you would be right.  Yes, 15,000 Crown Court hearing days have been cut from the next judicial year.

That’s 15,000 days when cases could be concluded, when witnesses could be put out of their misery, when complainants could get closure, when defendants could move on with their lives, be it in custody or as free people.  That’s 15,000 days when rehabilitation might have started or punishment might have been meted out.  Thanks to the Ministry of Justice and arguably the Treasury, all of these things have to be put on hold, whilst money is lavished on health, police, the armed forces, and who knows what else.


Written by admin
May 16th, 2019

“How is it that my boss can defend him on a drink-driving when I can’t get one to defend me on an attempt murder?” If you think that question is daft or extreme, unrealistic or some sort of misrepresentation, you are just simply misinformed or wrong.

We all know that, on balance, and whether we like it or not, those barristers who have achieved the rank of Her Majesty’s Counsel are generally speaking the best of the bunch. The process for appointment is transparent, robust, and designed to ensure that only candidates of true quality are put forward for appointment.

Every year significant numbers of applications are received, only for a relatively small number of candidates to be appointed.

Why is it then that the addition of two letters after the name of a successful barrister means that they will suddenly become beyond the reach of almost every individual appearing before a criminal court?

There was once a time, and in Northern Ireland that time is still now, when Queens Counsel would appear to represent a significant raft of people charged with serious offences. Rapes, armed robberies in the course of which firearms were discharged, gang-related Section 18 woundings, manslaughters, attempt murders, serious frauds, as well as cases that were likely to attract significant public attention, were all ones in which Queens Counsel might be expected to appear.

Now, despite a lifetime of paying taxes both indirect and direct, as well as massive National Insurance contributions, most people charged with the above list of offences will simply be told that their application for Queens Counsel has been rejected.

We live in times when someone accused of the rape and attempted murder of a stranger will routinely be told that their application for the barrister of their choice has been refused, even though they are likely to receive a substantial a life sentence. Young people, including those under 18, facing allegations of attempt murder or manslaughter are left knowing that when it comes to securing Queens Counsel, the best they can probably do is dream.

Even where the current regulations seem to allow for a certificate for Queens Counsel to be granted, many judges before whom the applications are placed will routinely refuse them on the basis that this makes them look strong, or fiscally aware, or perhaps just the sort of person who ought to be promoted to the High Court Bench.

What with restrictive regulations and over-zealous judges the sighting of Queens Counsel in many Crown Courts will be as noteworthy as hearing the first cuckoo of sprint.

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