Monday, 5 March 2007

Monday misery...

I have had an entirely pointless morning today. After spending a significant amount of the weekend preparing a trial, I arrived at court bright and early this morning and after a chat to my opponent, a nice woman I hadn't met properly before, I set off to the cells to see if my client had arrived on the prison van. So far as today's case was concerned he's been on bail but he was in custody for other matters at another court. The staff in the cells said he wasn't there and they weren't expecting him. My solicitor then arrived at court bearing the news that, yes, he had been in custody on other matters but he had been granted bail on Friday. Unfortunately for him (and for me) he had been arrested at his home address on Saturday morning and was being taken to a Magistrates court about 60 miles away this morning (when the police arrest people over the weekend and keep them in custody, they need to be produced at the local Magistrates court on Monday morning). So my trial had to be adjourned. When this sort of thing happens in civil cases, the barristers still get paid their brief fee. Not so in crime - I shall get paid the princely sum of £46.50 for my efforts. Aside from my financial gripes and wasted weekend, all the witnesses came to court, the court itself will now be empty today and this sorry mess will cost quite a bit of public money.

It's not all rosy for my civil brethren, though. I got back to Chambers to find a colleague looking very annoyed. He'd been sent the papers last week for a personal injury case due to be heard tomorrow. He'd prepared it fully and had even sent a written advice, only to receive a telephone call from the solicitors this morning asking for the brief back as they'd sent duplicate instructions to somebody in another set of Chambers a month ago but only realised their mistake this morning! This means he's likely to be out of court tomorrow (as I may well be too - my trial was supposed to last 2 days!). Technically, he'd be entitled to bill his solicitors the agreed fee since it's entirely their mistake. I think he ought to do this, not only because he deserves to be paid but also because it might mean the solicitors are more careful next time. Others think that in order to keep the solicitors sweet he should either bill half or nothing at all. I can see their point, but if they have any principles at all, they should have no objection to paying up.

All in all, not a very good start to the week!

4 comments:

Mr Beagle said...

If I turned up to a customer and they'd also booked someone else to do the work, I'd stil bill them!

Anonymous said...

Surely if your case was listed for trial and stood out you should receive £55.00 plus VAT not £46.50

Legal Beagle said...

You may well be right, anonymous. I certainly hope so!

Smartie said...

I really found it irkesome how junior barristers didn't get paid for preparation of a trial, esp in Mags Courts where trials get adjourned frequently, and then the papers get passed around Chambers so your prep was wasted!!!