Barrister scheme to allow payouts

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The Independent Online
PEOPLE who are unhappy with the service they received from their barrister may soon be able to claim limited financial compensation.

Clients will be eligible for payouts of up to pounds 2,000 when things go wrong, if recent proposals from an independent body - set up by the Bar's ruling council - are accepted. But barristers will remain immune from being sued over the way they handle a case.

The Barristers Complaints Bureau would be able to order that fees are waived or reduced, and refer barristers to be disciplined.

Barristers would also have to tell clients the likely cost of the work in advance and give written reasons for dropping a case at the last minute. It is an open secret at the Bar that barristers often do this if something more interesting comes along or they do not think they will win. Under the changes being suggested, such late withdrawal would be more difficult. The barristers would also have a duty to ensure their replacements were properly briefed.