Letter: The case for independent barristers

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am grateful to Patricia Wynn Davies ("Solicitors set to present cases in the higher courts", 23 September) for reminding your readers that it costs the taxpayer less to have an independent barrister prosecute average three-day jury trials than it would to use a lawyer employed by the Crown Prosecution Service.

More important reasons why independent advocates should continue to present the prosecution's case to a jury have been identified by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct.

In June 1995 the committee recommended that independent advocates (solicitors or barristers) should continue to conduct the prosecution of the majority of jury trials. It considered the question of whether specially qualified lawyers employed by the CPS might conduct those crown court cases which involve the least serious offences or do not involve a jury. Only a minority of the committee favoured this. The majority took account of the need, in a modern democracy, for the power of the state to be open to scrutiny. Their principal concern was that the employed advocate's ability to maintain sufficient independence could well be undermined or that he or she might become "prosecution- minded".

DAVID PENRY-DAVEY QC

Chairman, General Council of the Bar

London WC1

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