The members of Red Lion Chambers are absorbing the detail of the concessions made this week by the Ministry of Justice in relation to criminal advocacy fees, both in AGFS and VHCC cases.
In short, it is our understanding that AGFS cuts have been suspended until at least Summer 2015, and may not be imposed at all if efficiency savings remove the need. As to VHCCs, we understand that there is a firm commitment to form a working group with the profession to review VHCCs and to look at other options for advocacy fees in these cases, with GFS Plus to be specifically considered.
We welcome the preservation of current AGFS rates for 90% of criminal cases, undertaken by 90% of the criminal Bar. This lends crucial support to the junior Bar, and allows our elected leadership to continue making the case for survival of the referral profession through reviews including Jeffrey and Leveson, and elsewhere. Individual members of Red Lion Chambers are considering their position regarding VHCCs. Head of Chambers Max Hill QC has announced his personal decision not to accept any VHCC at new rates. It is anticipated that this will be the position taken by every member of Red Lion Chambers, but individuals must have time to confirm their position.
It is of paramount importance that our many solicitor colleagues feel that Red Lion Chambers continues to support them and the referral system they represent. Accepting overdue government concessions on advocacy fees for the Bar is no abandonment of the principled fight for survival in which we and our solicitor colleagues are engaged.