A pioneering direct access chambers in Cheltenham has attracted its first QC, who has urged fellow criminal silks to follow his lead in preparing for a growth in privately paying clients.
Daniel Janner QC has acted in a string of high-profile murder trials as well as in fraud, regulatory and disciplinary cases. He is among the QCs refusing to accept very high-cost cases (VHCCs) at the greatly reduced legal aid rates.
Cotswold, which only works on direct access and operates on a fixed-fee basis, claims to have landed the biggest direct access case so far – a class action over the terms of a building society’s tracker mortgage.
Mr Janner, who has a cottage in the Cotswolds, said 23 Essex Street would remain his principal chambers.
“It makes sense to do some work out of the Cotswolds, when it is an area I spend a considerable amount of time in and love,” Mr Janner said.
He said his first six years as a barrister were spent doing a mixture of criminal and civil law work. “Although, happily, I’ve been busy, there are inevitably big challenges ahead for all criminal silks, and we need to diversify.”
Mr Janner said that all criminal silks should follow his example and be trained in direct access work, as more clients would, in the future, be privately rather than publicly funded.
“I have done a lot of VHCC cases in the past, but I’m not accepting any more until this dispute with the government is sorted out.”
Mr Janner said he remained essentially a criminal law barrister but he had expanded into other areas, such as regulatory and disciplinary work and actions involving the police.
He said he was impressed by the “forward-thinking” attitude of Cotswold Barristers, which he described as a “small, fresh group of talented people”.
Among the high-profile cases which Mr Janner has appeared in are the Knightsbridge safety deposit robbery, the biggest theft of its day, where he represented one of the defendants.