New NI Attorney General Sworn In

As the BBC notes, Northern Ireland’s new Attorney General John Larkin was sworn in at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast today.

After taking the oath, Mr Larkin pledged his full backing for the independence of barristers.

“I intend to support our independent bar to the best of my ability,” he said.

“What I do want to do here is to declare my firm view that an independent bar is a strong and protective force in and for the rule of law,” he added.

“I look to my sisters and brothers of the bar to be inspired and sustained in that task,” he added.

And what of those missing powers that the new NI Attorney General had previously complained about on 24 May

Unlike his direct rule predecessor, Mr Larkin will not have any powers of supervision over the Public Prosecution Service.

“It’s something that should be urgently looked at I think,” Mr Larkin said.

“The decisions about unduly lenient sentences, about other forms of statutory obligation, which were taken by the attorney are no longer taken by the attorney.

“So the reason for that isn’t entirely clear to me at least.”

According to a 7 June statement from the new NI Justice Minister

The Minister also confirmed that he is pressing ahead with a consultation on sentencing guidelines mechanisms to establish a clearer, transparent and more consistent framework for sentencing.

He revealed that later this month he will announce the membership of the panel to lead the review of prisons, starting at Maghaberry, and that he intends to start discussions with the First Minister and deputy First Minister on whether the relationship the law sets down between the new Attorney General and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) needs to be looked at again. [added emphasis]

Meanwhile, according to a 2 June statement from the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, one of that party’s proposals is to

– empower the Attorney General to have superintendence over the PPS, and ensure that the PPS should be required to give reasons for its decisions and disclose documents to the victims of crime.

But why wasn’t this issue addressed when those parties where discussing the  “Agreements, Concordats, Protocols and Memoranda of Understanding underpinning the devolution of policing and justice matters”?

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  • madraj55

    So much for the veiled threats from Ian Og to prevent Larkin getting the post. Best to keep quiet when you have nothing to back it up, isn’t it..

  • Cynic

    “I look to my sisters and brothers of the bar to be inspired and sustained in that task,” he added.

    Pity so many of them are sustained by state largesse in the form of legal aid…but we never hear any gripes that this compromises their independence.

  • Alias

    NI’s Executive clearly did not want the PPS to be superintended by the AG, since it agreed with Her Majesty’s Government that it was to have no such oversight, thereby leaving it more vulnerable to political interference than it would otherwise have been.

    The media didn’t even mention the omission until the new AG protested about it – and hence we see the party of the Executive which agreed that the PPS should be left vulnerable to political interference now trying to pretend that it had nothing to do with them and that they actually agree with the AG in regard to the need for his supervision.

    The Shinners were caught conniving with Perfidious Albion again…

  • DC

    He’s on more money than the PM – a very articulate performer as he’s the only person I’ve seen on the Hearts and Minds programme to really out do Noel Thompson’s questions by giving some very sound answers.

    Just to add, I was walking past the Bar Library and saw a nice golden or bronze plaque on the wall – and it said: “The price of liberty is Eternal vigilance.

    Underneath the plaque were two luxury cars, a BMW and a Bentley. Just around the corner was a Porsche. I kid you not.

    Sadly, I don’t think the price of liberty is actually eternal vigilance somehow.

  • Donald Fraser

    “Underneath the plaque were two luxury cars”. That road’s been closed by order of the Secretary of State for the last number of months – sure you weren’t imagining the ‘luxury cars’?

  • DC

    It’s not closed because buses pass through.

  • DC
  • Donald Fraser

    Buses DON’T pass through. The entire street has been shut by order of the secretary of state. Afraid your little porkie pie has been exposed……

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/northern_ireland_politics/8650354.stm

  • Glencoppagagh

    Was he looking out for his erstwhile colleagues by sending a warning shot across David Ford’s bows?
    It’ll be interesting to see what if anything happens to legal aid.

  • DC

    I’m not lying pal because it wasn’t recently.

    That link is a fairly recent one end of April, so obviously when the cars were parked there there were also buses going through.

    As it says on your link:

    It is not open to normal traffic but is used by buses and by motorists visiting or working at the courts.

    However the new barriers *will* close it off to all traffic.

    And in addition I also sent the Bar library staff an email at the time, sending it through off their site with genuine return contact details, wondering if they really believe that the price of liberty is vigilance (based on the above).

    No one responded, obviously far too serious a bunch and too busy perhaps to respond to what I felt was a perfect example right on their own doorstep of the luxury provided and status symbols sought when delivering ‘justice’. No doubt having a lifestyle far far removed from the people they purport to want to serve efficiently.

    Perhaps responding didn’t pay enough.

    I myself take solace in the notion of poetic justice, I wonder if the victims of Omagh do too and the many others failed by the system when needing it most.

  • Alias

    “Underneath the plaque were two luxury cars, a BMW and a Bentley. Just around the corner was a Porsche. I kid you not.”

    And the problem is…?

  • DC

    The closed shop of the Bar and the accummulation of wealth stemming from such uncompetitive policies in the upper echelons of the legal system should in part be an answer to your ‘problem’ question.

    And all of this in an environment where we have young people, qualified, well able, more able perhaps, to do such work and excel on up there if the system were more open, more churn going on.

    Also, the internet has changed availability of information where now cases and case law is far more easily accessible meaning knowledge can be gained quicker, with the ‘ more experienced’ response withering on the vine somewhat.

    Basically I think the younger generations of legally qualified can do more for less, which ought to benefit the public purse and help people get legal representation for less.

    But I admit I have fairly generalised the situation.

    And no it isn’t a problem – if you don’t care.

  • Alias

    Err, nearly all barristers are self-employed, so how you can conclude that there is a monopoly by a single firm that engages in price-fixing and other anti-competitive practices is beyond me. Some barristers earn modest sums. It all depends on their particular expertise and market demand for their service. It is not a case, as socialists would like to think, that all are born with equal ability. Some barristers are brilliant and worth every penny, while some will lose you a case that you should have won. A barrister who charges 5k a day only gets 5k a day because his service is worth 5k a day. There is nothing forcing the client to employ that barrister as opposed to one who will change 500 a day. The client is in a free market system. So the barrister who drives a Porsche is a brilliant man. Don’t hate him because of his success or think that he only acquired his wealth because of a corrupt system that you, as a socialist, feel it is your duty to ‘fix’ so that he rides a Honda moped to work.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Alias what a load of guff. The NI bar and the free market are deeply estranged.

    “nearly all barristers are self-employed…”
    It’s just that nearly all of them have only one paying customer — the legal aid fund.

    “A barrister who charges 5k a day only gets 5k a day because his service is worth 5k a day. There is nothing forcing the client to employ that barrister as opposed to one who will change 500 a day.”
    It’s easy for the ‘client’ to choose the most expensive option when someone else is paying the bill.

  • Donald Fraser

    “It’s just that nearly all of them have only one paying customer — the legal aid fund.” Hilarious ignorance. Ever heard of the Commercial Bar, the Civil Bar, the Employment Bar, the Planning Bar etc. etc. etc. About 25% of the Library depends on ‘the legal aid fund’ – the rest are fully immersed in the free market. As Alias said – if you’re talented enough you can earn accordingly (just like the rest of the capitalist world) if you’re not, you won’t. End of.

  • Glencoppagagh

    “About 25% of the Library depends on ‘the legal aid fund…..’

    So the earnings 20 or so who received more than £250,000 from legal aid in 2007/08 were eclipsed by the stars of the commercial bar?
    Since you are clearly informed on these matters, what is the aggregate revenue of the Bar Library?I’d be very suprised if legal aid represented less than a quarter of it.

  • Donald Fraser

    No idea what the ‘aggregate revenue’ of the Library is. Certainly £250k p.a. would be relatively Mickey Mouse money for a Commercial Senior. All Counsel effectively working for the public sector (i.e. most of the Criminal Bar and large sections of the Family and Judicial Review Bar) need to (and most already have from what I see) accept that their earnings will be brought to a level that the State can bear – if they don’t like it they can try to move back into private sector work (though it’s admittedly difficult to swap disciplines mid-career).

  • Alias

    Glen, the self-employed have no legal obligation to publish their annual accounts so there is no way to independently calculate the aggregate income of that profession. The law of supply and demand is what regulates fees in the market irrespective of the moderating influence of large customers within it such as the State. There are only 60 or so QCs in NI, so the State cannot price fees for those cases that require a QC below a level that is offered by the private sector if it wants QCs to provide a service to it. £1500 per day for a QC at the Saville Inquiry isn’t an unreasonable amount. It is not a case of simply increasing the supply in order to lower the rate since that supply is determined by the quality of the barrister, with a barrister having obtained a high level of expereince and demonstated a high level of ability before he is appointed as a QC. Circa 10% of barristers in NI have obtained the required skills to be appointed as QCs. So, the State does not have the option of fixing fees at a low level or the option of creating another 60 highly-skilled, high-calibre professionals just like that. It all depends on ability. I recall some accountancy firm doing a survey of barristers’ chambers in the UK a few years back where aggregate income was said to be 1.6bn between 10,400 barristers so that would be an income of 153,846. However, most barristers earn circa 50k a year, but some earn less than 10k. The top earners much more. But like all self-employed, they have to pay overheads and staff out of that and they don’t have the advantage of paying taxes at the corporate rate.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The law of supply and demand is what regulates fees in the market irrespective of the moderating influence of large customers within it such as the State. There are only 60 or so QCs in NI, so the State cannot price fees for those cases that require a QC below a level that is offered by the private sector if it wants QCs to provide a service to it.

    So barristry is a free market ? Anyone who passes the the exams can become one ?

  • DC

    Exactly Comrade.

    There are around 550 or so barristers in NI, and I wonder how they became ‘self-employed’ if not through the oversight of the Bar Council somehow!

    The Executive Council (through its Education Committee) is responsible for considering Memorials submitted by applicants for admission as students of the Inn and by Bar students of the Inn for admission to the degree of Barrister-at-Law and making recommendations to the Benchers. The final decisions on these Memorials are taken by the Benchers. The Benchers also have the exclusive power of expelling or suspending a Bar student and of disbarring a barrister or suspending a barrister from practice.

  • Donald Fraser

    Not sure what sort of ill-lettered point you’re all stumbling about trying to make here. You get a decent Law Degree (in practice a 2:1 minimum). You then pass the exams to get into the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (yes, they’re extremely difficult exams and the percentage of students getting places is minute). You then pass the Institute of Professional Legal Studies exams and then you’re finally entitled to practice at the Northern Bar. Once you start (there’ll be about forty starters each year) it’s then sink or swim – if you’re good enough you’ll survive and eventually prosper; if you’re not you won’t. The attrition rate is ferocious – of an average of forty starters only ten are left after five years with another couple falling by the wayside over the course of the next couple of years. IF (and it’s a big one) after all that you’re at the top of your chosen area of specialty then yes, you can make good money BUT (and, again, they’re big ones) the workload is HORRENDOUS (minimum eleven hour days, six days a week with a good five or six hours on Sundays) and the stress levels severe (you’re acting for big clients in big cases involving large sums of money and if you make one mistake you’ll (a) never work for that client or solicitor again and (b) will probably get sued for professional negligence).

    Top Barristers are extraordinarily able, hard-working and impressive individuals. They earn what they earn because the free market is prepared to pay them at that level. Anyone thinks that’s unfair – vote Socialist Workers Party or some other bunch of risible bed-wetters and leave the rest of us to get on with living in the real world.

  • Glencoppagagh

    “You get a decent Law Degree (in practice a 2:1 minimum)…”

    As I recall from encounters with barristers in London (admittedly a few years ago), it seemed to be considered rather naff in the profession to have an undergraduate law degree.

  • Donald Fraser

    Depends on the specialty Glen – in the Intellectual Property Bar certainly, the starting point is invariably a Masters in one of the sciences, but in the general Bar a straight Law Degree is (in my experience) fairly well respected as an acceptable entry point.

  • DC

    I see you attempt to liken legal representation to something that is socially productive, a noble economic artisanship, which it isn’t.

    The graduating system you describe above seems more like an argument to overcome the many disincentives in the system than proof of one which is dynamic and incentivising.

    Perhaps the small number able to become involved in barristry, the forty or so you mention, should be looked at and qualifications other than those of punishing short-term study regimes should be considered instead.

    The Socialist Workers Party jibe is probably more suited to the legal eagles because of the job control unionism that is at work in those circles.

    Besides the kinds of financial settlements paid to such legal representatives is heavily mediated by State action, institutions and ultimately decisions and those settlements – all of which you can’t just brush aside and gloss over by saying it is down to ‘free market’ workings.

  • Donald Fraser

    No real idea what you’re saying here I’m afraid. ‘Job control unionism’ – nope – don’t understand that. ‘…the kinds of financial settlements paid to such legal representatives is heavily mediated by State action, institutions and ultimatley decisions and those settlements..” – nope – don’t get that either. ‘Punishing short-term study regimes’ are part of every professional qualification process. The coherent part of your post appears to express a desire to ‘fix’ things so that people with no discernable talent or work ethic earn the same as those with talent who work hard – best of luck with that one….

  • DC

    The job control union is that of the Bar. It sets the entry requirements, the numbers to be taken on, the limits. Basically the Bar serves its own interests.

    Secondly, the State intervenes, you do not put your case to a private sector agency (which I am sure you know fine well!) so it is the State institutions that are used and at times to get through that process legal aid is given. Ultimately a form of state action.

    Judges or magistrates set the final terms you know in terms of financial penalities, punitive fees – it is these outcomes which help the client and thus the barrister. And in a closed circuit where all barristers are known to the judiciary boundaries of serving justice and that of the interests of barristers may become blurred.

    Again the judiciary belong to the State, it is a public sector network, it is the judiciary to which legal teams make their representations and put their cases to. The judges then decide based on that and the evidence. Not a bit of the private sector is involved here at all.

    To liken these people to the private sector agents is just simply ridiculous.

    Not to mention the likely invites to the Lord Chief Justice dinners at Christmas time and the closed circuit hob-nobbing, a network far far far far removed from any competitive private sector, where getting to know judiciary personally and on favourable terms could go a long way.

    But I see you ignored the problems around not being socially productive; even if we take the conservative view of justice which involves the perpetrator getting his or her just deserts, it means just that – the perpetrator getting just deserts not the legal team.

  • Donald Fraser

    Jeepers – have you been drinking DC? “The Bar sets the entry requirements” – afraid not old chap – the IPLS does that. The only entry requirements the Bar sets are that you’re a fit and proper person to practice i.e. not an axe-murdering mentalist.

    “Secondly, the State intervenes, you do not put your case to a private sector agency (which I am sure you know fine well!) so it is the State institutions that are used and at times to get through that process legal aid is given. Ultimately a form of state action.” Huh? ‘You do not put your case to a private sector agency’ – what on earth are you on about? Are you suggesting that the Bar is some sort of rotten monopoly because barristers appear in Court? Like Consultants work in Hospitals?

    “Judges or magistrates set the final terms you know in terms of financial penalities, punitive fees – it is these outcomes which help the client and thus the barrister. And in a closed circuit where all barristers are known to the judiciary boundaries of serving justice and that of the interests of barristers may become blurred.”

    This is borderline incoherent stuff. I THINK that what you’re trying to say is that because Barristers argue cases in front of Judges, Judges get to know Barristers and that familiarity makes the system corrupt. An ‘interesting’ if hare-brained proposition – spend a week watching the judiciary in NI in action and you’ll see what I mean – they hold all Counsel in equal contempt.

    “Not to mention the likely invites to the Lord Chief Justice dinners at Christmas time and the closed circuit hob-nobbing, a network far far far far removed from any competitive private sector, where getting to know judiciary personally and on favourable terms could go a long way.”

    ‘Lord Chief Justice dinners’ – what THE FUCK are they?

    ‘Closed circuit hob-nobbing’ – what’s that – eating biscuits on CCTV?

    You silly little man – the Bar isn’t the Edwardian Gentleman’s club you and your envy-peddling pals would like it to be.

    “But I see you ignored the problems around not being socially productive; even if we take the conservative view of justice which involves the perpetrator getting his or her just deserts, it means just that – the perpetrator getting just deserts not the legal team.”

    Sorry – can’t even guesstimate what it is you’d hoped to communicate here. Here’s a hint – think (in your case, think really hard) of what it is that you want to communicate and then try to describe that in a reasonable number of simple words. Spewing polysyllabic cant tends to be the preserve of proto-socialist, self-educated oiks with an oven’s worth of chips on their shoulders.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Donald,

    That was very informative. I’m surprised to hear that a 2:1 would even be considered given all the competition.

    Can you explain a few things to me :

    – how does one get “called to the bar” ? Is this merely a euphemism for a formality which takes place after one has passed the requisite exams, or is it an extra hurdle which has to be overcome ?

    – if there is a free market then why are barristers complaining about the proposed cut in the legal aid rates in language that implies they are being made to take an unreasonable forced pay reduction ?

    – What would you say to a system where the justice department required barristers to bid for legal work and gave jobs to the bidders providing the best value ? That would be a free market.

    I’m not one of the people like DC who think that the legal profession are parasites or any similar silly nonsense. I am happy enough for the best people to be well paid. However, I strongly disagree with the notion that there is a free market in play.

    I am well aware that there are fully trained barristers (in the “passed all the exams” sense) working in call centres because they can’t get any work. If someone passes all the exams but is unable to obtain work, while others who make it in have to deal with the massive stress and workload (I’m somewhat cynical about that claim as well, I might add, given the *years* that certain cases take to come to court), then it suggests a non-functioning market where something is clearly broken.

  • DC

    You silly little man – the Bar isn’t the Edwardian Gentleman’s club you and your envy-peddling pals would like it to be.

    Going by the that response I reckon it is.

    In terms of closed circuit hob-nobbing can you explain why it was that certain solicitors were able to purchase properties that belonged to judges who had to leave their homes after terror threats if it were not for the legal eagles having insider knowledge; all done certainly outside of any private sector selling (despite it happening during the troubles) that ultimately meant they got properties both quickly and on the cheap.

    If you struggle with the notion of ‘just deserts’ while attempting to explain justice and legal stuff I’m afraid the debate ends here for me.

  • Donald Fraser

    Comrade Stalin – being called to the Bar involves attending a ceremony in the High Court where the Chief Justice formally confirms your entitlement to practice. The Chief calls your name, asks “Mr. X. – do you move?” and you stand and bow in response.

    The barristers complaining about Legal Aid cuts are a very specific group within the Library – the Criminal Bar. Specialising in crime means that your client is invariably an impecunious spide. Impecunious spides have their legal bills paid by the State. The State has no money. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that your fees are going to be slashed. The vociferousness of the complaint stems from the fact that these guys will have spent their entire careers specialising in crime – you can’t just suddently decide to re-invent yourself as a judicial review or commercial or employment barrister, it takes long years of study to master a particular discipline. They’re problem is that they chose to specialise in an area which was historically lurcrative but now isn’t – can’t say I have much sympathy with them frankly – it’s just one of those things.

    The entire thrust of your post is premised on the erroneous nature that all barristers work at criminal law (they don’t – it’s about 20-25% of the Library) and that the bar is accordingly some sort of anti-competitive cartel. The rest of the Library is 100% free market – if you’re an individual or a business or a government department and you want your legal rights/interests defended then you can pay for the cheapest or most expensive Barrister that you can afford. The best get paid the most and vice versa.

    As for your government tendering idea – it applies in respect of most government legal work but hasn’t been applied to criminal defence work for various technical and legal reasons. Personally I’ve no problem with the proposition but I do see merit in the observation that this Government would love us to have the US system whereby if you’re an impecunious spide then you get the cheapest and most hopelessly inept legal representation available – luckily we’ve abolished the death penalty……

  • Donald Fraser

    Your problem is what precisely? Certain people buy houses from certain other people on the private market? Is that illegal? Is there some sort of statutory imperative requiring everyone to sell their houses through estate agents?

    ‘the notion of just deserts’? Which ‘notion’ is that? That the Sahara is inherently judicious? That the Gobi is replete with equity? You berk. I think the less time you spend considering ‘legal stuff’ the better for all concerned.

  • Glencoppagagh

    You stated in an earlier post that around a quarter of barristers depended on legal aid. Is it reasonable to infer that another quarter or so make a living from prosecuting criminal cases?

    “They’re problem is that they chose to specialise in an area which was historically lurcrative..”
    You suggested earlier that £250,000 was small beer in the commercial bar so which is it? Is state funded criminal work more lucrative than commercial work or not? In any event, I can’t believe that commercial work is very plentiful in NI seeing as there’s not a lot of commerce.

  • DC

    The ‘notion’ that high payment is deserved for a finding of guilty / not guilty.

    Offending takes place in a social context, crime is a process and I don’t think all barristers and legally qualified are parasites just that there is too much money being made in the findings of guilty / not guilty verdicts, monies which are paid to ultimately get the judge / magistrate to attribute.

    Because to put justice at the heart of the justice system money would be better spent on examining and understanding offending behaviour, this can only come about with a better focus on the individual, the social context and the process related to his or her offending behaviour.

    What we have currently is a certain section of the criminal justice system holding a false sense of its own importance because attributing guilty or not guilty is a part of the process which seems to attract large fees in comparison with other fields; social workers, probation board staff, youth justice agencies, carers doing the cared-for bit.

    Just deserts can be defined each according to his needs, but it is an essentially contested area of debate with an argument that hard work and talent merits more money. But are barristers paid enough, too little or too much?

    Giving people what they deserve

    Theories disagree on the basis for deserving. The main distinction is between theories that argue the basis of just deserts is held equally by everyone, and therefore derive egalitarian accounts of distributive justice—and theories that argue the basis of just deserts is unequally distributed on the basis of, for instance, hard work, and therefore derive accounts of distributive justice by which some should have more than others.

    I think too much money is tied up in conviction processing and not enough money is spent on proper rehabilitation and prevention.

    Which is why David Ford is looking to shift legal aid money into different areas and he has cited the inefficiencies in the system. Also in my view just attributing guilty / not guilty is actually not that effective in reducing offending behaviour, the actual causes of crime itself.

    And Donald the issues around buying property cheaply off-market arises when I see certain barristers winning cases today for clients against ‘terrorists’ yet they themselves have previously benefited financially from their illegal actions. The irony is delicious.

  • Donald Fraser

    “You stated in an earlier post that around a quarter of barristers depended on legal aid. Is it reasonable to infer that another quarter or so make a living from prosecuting criminal cases?”

    No it’s not – the criminal bar (both prosecution and defence) make up about 25% of the Library.

    “They’re problem is that they chose to specialise in an area which was historically lurcrative..”
    You suggested earlier that £250,000 was small beer in the commercial bar so which is it? Is state funded criminal work more lucrative than commercial work or not? In any event, I can’t believe that commercial work is very plentiful in NI seeing as there’s not a lot of commerce.”

    Don’t really understand your point here. By ‘lucrative’ i mean (in very general terms) that a criminal Silk could (in the recent past) have made anywhere between £150k – £800k per annum. A commercial Silk makes at least £350k per annum but is unlikely to make more than £1m in this jurisdiction. What is your point?

  • Donald Fraser

    DC – if you’d actually READ my posts you’d have noticed that I’m not defending the Criminal Bar or arguing for their fees to be maintained. Personally I think they’ve been SPECTACULARLY over-paid considering that their ‘clients’ have invariably been impecunious scum.

    Still don’t understand your property point or the ‘delicious irony’ in barristers (or anyone else for that matter) buying property on the private market.

  • DC

    Re the property – they didn’t buy it using the housing market they bought it *off-market* using insider dealing. Basically they knew back then during the troubles the houses that were available because of contacts in the police and through the legal system.

    So for instance when a senior civil servant got threatened out of a house in Holywood a solicitor at the time stepped in and bought the property off the threatened-out civil servant. Quickly and cheaply or cheaper than using an open housing market.

    The solicitor / barrister then sees no problem in taking up cases against terrorists on points of legal principle, purportedly believing in upholding the law against terror – yet has benefitted personally from illegal acts.

    To me it makes a mockery of principle and rather strikes me as doing something for the value of money.

  • Donald Fraser

    You really are an unfortunate mentalist. ‘Insider dealing’?!?!?!
    In fucking houses?!?!?!? Are you having a laugh? If someone wants to sell a house to someone else off-market then that’s their business. It’s not corrupt, unlawful, improper or in any other way remotely unusual.

    “The solicitor / barrister then sees no problem in taking up cases against terrorists on points of legal principle, purportedly believing in upholding the law against terror – yet has benefitted personally from illegal acts.”

    This really is bonkers. Solicitors/Barristers don’t ‘take up’ cases because they believe in what their clients say/want/do – haven’t the last thirty years and the murder of various Solicitors taught even you at least that?

    By your fuck-witted logic we’ve all ‘benefitted personally from illegal acts.” You really are starting to scare me here DC.

  • DC

    Except they actually didn’t ‘want’ to sell a house – they were forced to vacate it through threats thus intefering with any proper ‘market’ value.

    Also, from my recollection the SPED scheme is usually applied in such cases, of course if you are in the legal know you simply pick up the phone and say “here I’ll take that one off you.”

    And then sit on it and sell it later.

    By your tone and indirect suppling of evidence it is clear that legal eagles and such likes do things just for the value of money regardless; hence the problems around fees and ramping up costs on the State – which is why you guys are getting less in future.

    Have a nice day now.

  • Glencoppagagh

    You’ve all but confirmed my point that state-funded criminal work has been a better source of earnings for barristers. I also suspect that it sets the benchmark for fees in general.
    And frankly I’m very sceptical that commercial work in NI could produce as much as £350,000 pa in fees.
    How many commercial cases are currently in progress that might involve fees consistent with your £350,000 figure? What is the breakdown among NI QCs between criminal and non-criminal practice? It looks like at least a dozen are milking legal aid which isn’t consistent with your claim that only 25% of barristers are involved in it .

  • Donald Fraser

    Fair enough – you obviously know more about the workings of the Bar than me.

  • Donald Fraser

    Great post DC – you’ve an impressive insight into the workings of the legal profession.

  • Alias

    DC, PIRA had a business practice of bombing commerial areas repeatedly in order to devalue property in those areas. They would then use front men to buy those properties at a knock-down price, and then stop bombing those areas. The value of the property then rise again, and PIRA would gain from the increase in value. No doubt the solicitors who acted for those front men knew exactly what was going on, but it doesn’t follow that the entire legal profession should be judged by the lamentable ethical standards of a few of its members.

    It is possible that PIRA also had business practice of intimidating private individuals out of their homes in order to purchase their properties below market value, but the fatal flaw in the theory in the example you cited is that the SPED scheme is self-financing which means that the State is careful to obtain market value for the property. Outside of that scheme, there is nothing preventing private individuals from selling their properties on the open market after they have had moved out of them, so terrorism as a profit-seeking activity is unlikely to apply.

  • Alias

    And, by the way, I’m not a lawyer, so I have no vested interest in defending that profession from your, frankly, crazed assualt on it. 😉