SPECIAL MESSAGE PROSECUTION FEES SURVEY 05.04.19
Fees for prosecution advocacy have not increased for 20 years. In 2012 many were cut. At the time Max Hill QC, the then Chair of the Criminal Bar Association, publicly deplored the cuts to prosecution fees in forceful terms, as did all other Bar Leaders. The situation has deteriorated further since then, and significantly so. Demands on those who prosecute have grown enormously; substantial volumes of unused material to review, opening notes, sentencing notes, bad character applications, hearsay notices, large amounts of electronic evidence are all routine in so much of the work you do. Most of this was not within the contemplation of the scheme when it was originally designed, certainly not on the scale that exists today. At the same time the guidance on when fees are payable has been remorselessly pared back.
In last year’s CPS Annual Report Alison Saunders’ principal strapline under her photo on the first page of the report was this: ‘The crime landscape is changing, and this affects our caseload. As in previous years, the total number of cases we deal with has fallen but the cases have become increasingly complex.’The message was clear – we may be prosecuting fewer cases but these cases are more and more challenging and complex, and require considerably more work than before. This has not been reflected in your fees. Not at all.
CBA officers have visited every part of the country to listen to your views. We receive e-mails from you every day. We talk to you in robing rooms. Your message is consistently clear. Fees for prosecution advocacy are now completely inadequate, too often atrociously bad, literally working out at McDonald’s level hourly rates, and this urgently needs to change.
We have been taking this message to the DPP and the Chief Executive of the CPS since December. We have been urging them to value you more, to respect your skill, professionalism and commitment as it deserves to be. This needs to be reflected in the fees payable but also in the guidance as to when those fees are payable.
Specifically, we have asked for a number of immediate changes to the guidance to bring fairness and financial equity to how you are treated. These have been communicated to the DPP and the Chief Executive of the CPS.
The CBA firmly believes that the CPS needs to commit to a review of all fees, but with a clear commitment that no fee will be reduced to allow others to rise. There is no scope to do that. Significant new investment is required. But in the meantime the CPS needs to upgrade the Guidance in a number of very obvious and rational ways; for example, so that you are paid properly from the first day of the trial, so that day two is not an unpaid day, so that refreshers don’t arbitrarily fall off a cliff after 40 days, so that you are never paid £55 if a trial you have thoroughly prepared is stood out for good reason, so that a case that requires two counsel does not have a noting junior allocated but to do the job of a full junior simply to save money and avoid the leader being paid properly in a serious and demanding case. The Bar has picked up the slack for long enough. This needs to change.
An essential part of this process is to survey the CBA membership. We anticipate that this will provide a powerful collective expression of the strength of feeling of those who prosecute on behalf of the CPS.
Please complete the survey below by 5.00pm on Thursday 18th April 2019. (Your names will remain confidential, seen only by the Secretary and Assistant Secreatary of the CBA for verification purposes).
It is obviously vital that every CBA member who prosecutes takes part. The CPS, politicians, and the public generally need to hear you.
Chris Henley QC Caroline Goodwin QC