BARRISTERS SEEK TO POSTPONE CUTS IN FEES
According to Carol Coulter of The Irish Times, the Bar Council has appealed to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to postpone changes in the criminal legal aid scheme until October so that discussions on alternative means of cost-saving can take place.
The changes will see fees for defence counsel being reduced by 10 percent. Such a move would end the parity between payment of defence and prosecution counsel.
Since 1976, the system of ‘parity-in-payment rule’ has ensured that people accused of serious crimes had available to them counsel of the same expertise and experience as the prosecution. The system also allowed criminal law practitioners to act for both the prosecution and the defence in different cases.
It has been argued that the abolition of the 'parity-in-payment rule' may distort and damage equality of representation in a criminal trial.