Exchange Chambers hits out at VHCC list

December 3, 2013

Exchange Chambers has hit back at a “misleading, cynical and underhand” list of barristers’ names sent by the Legal Aid Agency to solicitors looking for counsel to undertake very high cost cases (VHCC).

A list of 330 barristers and higher court advocates has been provided to law firms who contacted the agency after being unable to find counsel to take on VHCC work at the 30% reduced fee rates coming into force for new cases this week.

There are 22 barristers from Exchange Chambers on the list – and they have all indicated they will not work at the new rates.

Tom Handley, Director of Chambers at Exchange Chambers said:

“This list is clearly aimed at creating divisions within the profession by suggesting barristers are prepared to undertake VHCC work at the new lower rates when they are not.”

He said none of the barristers named is prepared to undertake VHCC work and called the list “deliberately misleading, cynical and underhand”.

Criminal Bar Association chairman Nigel Lithman QC said the inference that those named on the list are prepared to conduct VHCCs at the lower rates has “outraged” many who feel “let down and insulted” by the LAA.

He indicated that some barristers had informed him they are considering their position legally in respect of any defamatory inference by the inclusion of their name on the list.