Cardiff: £10,000 backing from Wales & Chester Circuit

The circuits have come together with the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) to indemnify the four barristers bringing a judicial review against the Legal Services Board over the legality of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA).

Last week the High Court capped their potential costs liability to the LSB and Bar Standards Board at £150,000.

CBA chairman Nigel Lithman revealed yesterday that his association has pledged £40,000, the South Eastern Circuit is putting up £30,000, the others £17,500 each, and Wales and Chester, the smallest circuit, £10,000.

In his weekly update to members, Mr Lithman said: “The cap was imposed having heard argument that the LSB regard their reasonable legal costs at £400,000 and our very own BSB £100,000, figures to make our members’ eyes water.”

Last Friday the BSB issued a statement to correct what it described as “misleading and inaccurate statements” about the costs of the action.

It said: “The BSB is an interested party in the proceedings. We are represented by solicitors and leading counsel. Given the nature of the submission and the status of the claimants, the BSB is likely to be required to play a significant role in assisting the court with information about the development of QASA.

“It is therefore appropriate for the BSB to be suitably represented. We anticipate our reasonable legal costs may be in the region of £100,000.”

Mr Lithman commented: “This of course means that the costs the LSB (who have now changed their original solicitors) and the BSB together consider reasonable for this two-day JR hearing are £500,000. They could have employed a level 4 legal aid counsel, someone whom they say is perfectly ‘able to appear in the most serious of cases’ for about £300.

“Of course I am happy to oblige the BSB and set the record straight. That they do not realise how shameful a light this shows them in is a comment on their judgment. Having chosen not to take the same course as the Solicitors Regulation Authority [which will not seek costs in the event of winning] or our distinguished legal team by acting pro bono, it would have shown more sensitivity to keep quiet and reflect upon the irreparable damage they have done to the relations between our wonderful profession and themselves.”

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