Recently a serious fraud trial was dismissed on the grounds that the defendants had been unable to find a barrister willing to represent them due to legal aid cuts. Since then, the Court of Appeal has overturned this decision, saying that it is not impossible that a barrister could be found and further efforts should be made to do so. But what next?
If the defendants are unable to find a barrister, the case will not go ahead, but nor is it likely to be dismissed again. It will continue to hang over the defendants heads, unresolved, until the prosecution agrees to abandon it.
On the other hand, since significant searches for a barrister have already taken place, if one suddenly emerges who is willing to take the case it can only be for one of two reasons. Either they are acting completely out of kindness, representing them on a pro bono basis, or they are highly dubious and taking the case because they have no other cases to handle or, worse still, because they crave the publicity that would come from taking what is now a high profile case. Either way, it isn’t the barrister, the prosecution, or the Courts that will suffer. Only the defendants.
In fact, the only way those defendants can be sure of good representation is to pay for it themselves. Just yet another case of Justice favouring the rich.