Appeal allowed in VHCC case
In a setback for the Criminal Bar’s campaign against the 30 per cent cut in fees for Very High Cost Cases (VHCCs), the Court of Appeal overturned the decision to stay the case of R v Crawley and others ( EWCA Crim 1028, 21 May 2014). The judgment effectively gives the government more time to find counsel to represent the five defendants in the case.
On 1 May 2014, the judge in the case, which was being heard in Southwark Crown Court, stayed the proceedings. He ruled that as the defendants had been unable to find a barrister to represent them, they could not receive a fair trial. In the appeal against this judgment, the Crown Prosecution Service argued successfully that the case should have been adjourned.
LAG understands that the government is seeking to recruit more senior barristers to the Public Defender Service (PDS) in order to cover the case and the estimated eight other VHCC cases which are at risk of collapse because of the Bar’s boycott.
‘The government seems determined to throw money at the PDS to break the boycott. It’s a political fix which might prove costly and ultimately ignores the interests of justice,’ said Steve Hynes, LAG’s director.