Family Graduated Fees

Response of the Association of Lawyers for Children to the Consultation on Reforming the Legal Aid Family Barrister Fee Scheme.
In summary, this paper:
  1. Sets out some fundamental principles which ought to apply to any future advocacy scheme;
  2. Warns that any advocacy scheme that does not fully and properly account for the enhanced levels of hearing preparation demanded by the Public Law Outline will inevitably doom that important reform to failure from the outset;
  3. Examines the issue of comparing solicitor and barrister advocacy rates, testing the general proposition of significant difference that lies at the heart of the current FGF consultation paper;
  4. Addresses the issue of increased spend on counsel, examining whether in effect the State is now paying more for the same service or is in fact now paying more for a greater service;
  5. In the event of there having to be reductions in the amounts to be paid to counsel, makes some suggestions about where such reductions should more fairly and sensibly be made;
  6. Addresses the question of affordability;
  7. Deals with the longer time picture, expressing serious reservation (especially from the perspective of the Bar) about any scheme based on a single fee for advocacy, and making a suggestion of its own.

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