Letter: Fighting for the CPS

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The Independent Online
Sir: I congratulate Polly Toynbee in exposing the restrictive practices which continue to protect the Bar and shield it from healthy competition.

The most significant beneficiaries of these practices are the QCs themselves. Once a year, after a mysterious process of consultation, the Lord Chancellor, a barrister and QC, appoint about 60 barristers to the position of Queen's Counsel. This enables those lucky individuals to double or treble their income often for undertaking less work. This is simply because by tradition the Bar and the judiciary insist that QCs are instructed in the most complex or weighty cases. The whole system is no more than the manipulation of a market which ensures that the supply of senior barristers does not exceed the demand for their services.

If their inflated fees were funded solely by wealthy litigants then it would not perhaps be a matter for public concern. However that is not the case: more often than not their fees are funded by the public purse, either through the legal aid system or by the Crown Prosecution Service. If this "Spanish Practice" were to exist in any other industry it would have been outlawed long ago.

Angus Andrew

Senior Partner

Osbornes Solicitors

London NW1

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