Thin Gravy

The latest installment of a case in which I have been involved is out. You may know it as Q v Q (although it isn’t). The judgment can be found here : C (A Child) (No 2) [2014] EWFC 44 (21 November 2014). As it is a case in which I am involved and which is ongoing I’m not going to comment on the actual case itself.

However – as is the fashion – I will give you a couple of pieces of information, without comment.

You can see from the judgment that Julien Foster, counsel for the Father, acted on his behalf for nothing as have other barristers before him. What you might not know (unless you are someone who does this sort of work) is that I will bill the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) a fixed fee of £206.87 for that hearing, including preparation of the skeleton argument (part of which is set out in the annex) and travel time from Bristol to London and back. I usually take home about 50p in the pound by rule of thumb, taking into account overheads etc. If the LAA decide to quibble over my train fare you can knock £60 or so off that figure.

5 thoughts on “Thin Gravy

  1. Precisely why acting for people for free is wrong. The MoJ has cut cut cut and we have supported their efforts by helping people and the system.

  2. [Gilbert&Sullivan mode]The life of a legal aid family counsel is not a happy one [Gilbert&Sullivan mode/]

    Given that it probably took 5 hours odd in travel time for which you will be paid the princely sum of £32.04. This means that you will have been paid less than the minimum wage for this travel.

  3. What of a similar case where the man is just, but only just, ineligible for legal aid on means grounds? Suppose he declines to spend what might be a significant portion of his assets on being represented and insists on acting for himself?

    I don’t think the court can refuse, or stop him cross-examining the witnesses. It took primary legislation to stop men accused of rape or d.v. cross-examining in person, and then the court has to appoint a solicitor to cross-examine the complainant – and that legislation does not apply in the civil courts.

    Some years ago at a mags’ court (since closed) which had no video, we had a d.v. complainant who refused to be in the same court-room as the defendant even behind a curtain. CPS had the impertinence to apply for him to be taken to the cells while he gave evidence! Defence counsel submitted that he had the right as well as the duty to be at his own trial unless he misbehaved.

    We decided that just sitting there quietly, unseen by the witness, could not constitute misbehaviour.

    Complainant refused to enter the court-room.

    CPS applied to adjourn to another day and to a court with video. Defence submitted that that application could have been made earlier. Defendant had been bailed to his sister’s sofa and it could not go on. Adjournment refused.

    Application to read the statement. Refused; unfair to the defendant whose counsel could not cross-examine a witness statement.

    No evidence offered; case not proved and dismissed. Our legal adviser was less than content (she did not like sitting with a Chair who was also a lawyer) but I still think we were right.

  4. Well that’s the point about zero hours contracts and not paying a living wage.

    Where there is an oversupply of labour and antipathy toward regulations, the result is that earnings are driven down and stay down. I don’t think that there is a single government contractor that is committed to a living wage or, of course, that is required to commit to it to get the work.

    The living wage is £7.85 ph, the minimum wage £6.50ph and the average UK salary is around £27,000. Of those in the top 10%, the median is around £60,000*. Unfortunately the electorate seems less and less likely to want to vote for policies that are committed towards reducing inequality.

    *source: Joseph Roundtree and the Equality Trust websites

  5. In reality, Mr Foster wasn’t the only one acting for free!

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