The case for the prosecution is made by Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association.
Mr Lodder says this… “There is a huge increase in the use of higher-court advocates [solicitors who are qualified to act as defence advocates in serious trials]. …. The Bar does not say that such an advocate is bad by definition. Some are good, but there are many who are truly appalling – defence solicitors who have never before conducted a crown court trial and have very limited experience in the magistrates’ trials now appear as junior advocates to defend in murder trials.”
I noted, as did many, the subtle barb, the sharp lance of barristerial disdain, when Mr Lodder put the point.. that some CPS lawyers were less than top drawer and had left the bar “because they had never risen above a modest practice.”‘
Be that as it may, a phrase beloved of some members of the Bar, as they look out of the window while talking to you, but today I read in Legal Week that Michael Caplan QC (I looked him up in that Wikipedia thing) is a solicitor who took Silk in 2002, one of only a small band of solicitor QCs and is a well regarded partner at law firm Kingsley Knapley. Caplan wades in from the Red corner to defend solicitor-advocates. This is not surprising but he says this… ” It will be extremely sad if the recent public comments (see below) openly criticising solicitor-advocates, made on behalf of the criminal Bar, are allowed to cause hostility and divisiveness between the two sides of the profession. There is a need for calm and reconciliation – and for all of us in the criminal justice system to work together to retain and promote its reputation around the world.”
I’m not entirely sure that I gained anything from reading this article other than the pleasing information that some of Mr Caplan’s best friends are criminal barristers – but it is not just barristers who can make barbed comments. I particularly enjoyed this quote from the Legal Week post: ” I am sure that the criminal Bar, on mature reflection, will appreciate the importance of working together with solicitors, and to refrain from descending further into what many will see as divisive comments. It is better that we all work together from all sides to maintain respect and to seek to move forward.”
Absolutely, Mr Caplan…. good point. The Criminal Bar, and indeed most barristers, depend on solicitors for work… best they get on. We can’t have brothers-in-law falling out… that would not do at all.
I doubt that my observations are of any value to you… but as I am a relic from the Triassic… I have no obligation to get it right, provided… as The Fat Bigot, a man of considerable eruditon and distinction who shares my taste for non-governmentallly approved drinking, opines…. I keep my comments within the law.