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Unassigned counsel’s fees in criminal cases in the Magistrates’ Court

Purpose: To correct possible misunderstanding as to payment for this work, and to draw attention to relevant documents which are to be found on the Bar Council’s website
Scope of application: All practising criminal barristers
Issued by: The Ethics Committee
First reviewed: 01/03/2012
Last reviewed: 01/03/2018
Status and effect: Please see the notice at end of this document. This is not “guidance” for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4.

The Bar Council has in the past received enquiries regarding approaches from firms of solicitors to chambers on the subject of counsel’s fees for criminal work in Magistrates’ Courts.

The enquiries have related to cases in which no representation order for an advocate has been granted. Counsel is therefore “unassigned”. Some solicitors approached chambers on the basis that no payment is available for this work. Counsel has therefore been requested to conduct such hearings in the Magistrates’ Courts for no fee. In return, the solicitors have stated that instructions to conduct the consequent Crown Court trials will, in the absence of unforeseen circumstances, be sent to members of chambers (who may or may not be counsel who conducted the Magistrates’ Court hearing).


Download: Unassigned counsel's fees in criminal cases in the Magistrates' Court:

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Important Notice

This document has been prepared by the Bar Council to assist barristers on matters of professional conduct and ethics. It is not “guidance” for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4, and neither the BSB nor a disciplinary tribunal nor the Legal Ombudsman is bound by any views or advice expressed in it. It does not comprise – and cannot be relied on as giving – legal advice. It has been prepared in good faith, but neither the Bar Council nor any of the individuals responsible for or involved in its preparation accept any responsibility or liability for anything done in reliance on it. For fuller information as to the status and effect of this document, please see here.

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