A Department of Justice spokesman said: “Copies of the list of firms willing to undertake criminal legal aid work is available to all defendants seeking legal representation from court offices.
“Copies of the list have also been provided to the Prison Service for clients on remand without legal representation.”
But according to one defendant, a number of those on the list are already refusing cases.
By the way, the quote in the title was originally attributed, in the UTV report, to an un-named senior criminal lawyer who was commenting on, what he claimed was, the lack of extensive criminal law experience of some of the firms on the list. The quote’s no longer there.
Adds According to the BBC report
Out of about 500 solicitors’ firms in NI, there are 16 on the list. Half are based in Belfast.
Update Today’s Irish News names the law firms on the list as
Adrian Travers, Banbridge
Berkeley White, Ballycastle
Campbell Stafford, Belfast
Edward Dougan & Co, Rathcoole
Hunter Associates, Coleraine
John F Gibbons & Co, Belfast
McAlinden & Rafferty, Belfast
Nicola Bell, Belfast
Orr & Co, Belfast
O’Toole & MacRandle, Belfast
SG Murphy & Co, Newtownabbey
Simmons Meglaughlin & Orr, Dungannon
Siobhan Armstrong, Newry
Stephen Perrot & Co, Holywood
Thompsons McClure, Belfast
Wylie & Co, Castlereagh
Further Update According to a new [Wed 15 June] BBC report
The BBC understands that there are now 14 solicitors’ firms on the list of those willing to work under the new legal aid arrangements. On Tuesday, a list of 18 such firms was being distributed to defendants at courts across Northern Ireland.
It is understood that four have withdrawn in the last 24 hours.
However, it emerged last night that five of the firms on the list — McAlinden & Rafferty Solicitors, Nicola Bell Solicitors, Orr & Co Solicitors, Stephen Perrott & Co Solicitors and Wylie & Co Solicitors — have contacted the Courts Service advising it they wish to be removed.
One new firm has since advised the Courts Service it is prepared to take on the cases, meaning that 14 legal firms are currently available to offer a defence to 236 unrepresented defendants.