HC Deb 27 March 1996 vol 274 cc629-30W
Mrs. Lait

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what was the value of work covered by legal aid for work by senior counsel, junior counsel or instructing solicitor in the Marchioness case before commencement of representations by the grantees on 13 March 1995; [21978]

(2) what were the full terms, and date, of directions given by him, or on his behalf, in the context of the Marchioness legal aid grant under section 4(4)(a) of the Legal Aid Act 1968; [21976]

(3) what was the daily or hourly rate for senior counsel, junior counsel and the instructing solicitor in the Marchioness legal aid grant; [21980]

(4) what was the date of the grant of £200,000 given in legal aid to those involved in the Marchioness disaster; [21975]

(5) what is the total amount paid or to be paid under the grant for the Marchioness inquest as assessed by the Legal Aid Board when satisfied that the work, as outlined in the estimate, had been carried out; [21979]

(6) if the Marchioness legal aid grant (a) was intended to and (b) did cover payment for any work by senior counsel, junior counsel or instructing solicitor acting for the grantees before the commencement of representations from the grantees on 13 March 1995. [21977]

Mr. Jonathan Evans

The direction given to the Legal Aid Board in respect of the Marchioness grant was made on 10 March 1995. The terms of the direction were as followsTo make a grant of up to £200,000 to the firm of Christian Fisher to cover the costs of representation for the families involved in the Marchioness disaster at the forthcoming inquest. The grant is to be made from the legal aid fund under the powers given by Section 4(2)(b) of the Legal Aid Act 1988.

A number of conditions were also made under the direction. These were: that no further public funds would be made available; that the grant would enable any of the families involved who wished to be represented to have representation; that representation would cover the whole of the inquest; that there would be no claims on the grant other than those channelled through the firm of Christian Fisher; and that the grant would be released only on the production of detailed bills of costs demonstrating that the work had been carried out.

The direction was given following representations made to the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the families concerned on 21 February 1995. The grant was a global figure, based on estimates submitted by the families' solicitors, for work by the solicitors, senior and junior counsel and two experts. The grant was intended to, and did, cover urgent preparatory work in the four days immediately preceding the start of the inquest on 13 March 1995.

On receipt of bills submitted by the solicitors, the Legal Aid Board satisfied itself that work up to the value of £200,000 had been carried out, and paid that sum on 30 June 1995 to the firm of Christian Fisher.