HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 c14
65. Mr. Leigh

asked the Attorney-General if the Lord Chancellor is satisfied with the operation of the legal aid scheme in London regarding the conduct of criminal cases.

The Solicitor-General

The Lord Chancellor is constantly open to receive suggestions for improvement.

Mr. Leigh

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware—perhaps from his early days at the Bar—that some solicitors who brief counsel in magistrates' courts provide them with little, if any, instructions, expecting counsel to take instructions at the court? Does he agree that that is an abuse of the system, and will he look into it?

The Solicitor-General

My hon. Friend has drawn attention to a practice that is fairly prevalent in London. It is open to a solicitor to brief counsel, even where the certificate for legal aid assigned only a solicitor. The claim for costs will then be assessed and paid by the Law Society on the basis of the actual 'work done by solicitor and counsel respectively under the 1982 regulations. There is a duty upon a solicitor to provide proper briefing for counsel. If a solicitor claims for work that he has not, in fact, done, it is a fraud on the legal aid fund.

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