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ORAC
25th May 2005, 13:13
Press Association, Wednesday May 25, 2005 1:23 PM

A £40,000-a-week Premiership footballer has successfully claimed legal aid to defend a spitting charge. Bolton Wanderers striker El-Hadji Diouf, from Senegal, will have his legal expenses paid for by the state.

He was accused of spitting at a Middlesbrough fan during Bolton's 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium last November. The former African player of the year denies the offence and his solicitor has written to Teesside magistrates to indicate formally the footballer will enter a not guilty plea.

The case was adjourned earlier this month and a pre-trial review will be held on June 21. Diouf's solicitor declined to talk about the case.

Alan Walsh said: "This is a case that is with the courts. This is a matter that cannot be commented on." He told the Sun earlier: "Currently legal aid is not means-tested. If there is a fault, it is in the system. There should be no criticism of El-Hadji Diouf.".........

eal401
25th May 2005, 13:26
There should be no criticism of El-Hadji Diouf
That's a matter of opinion.

Scumbag O'Riley
25th May 2005, 16:53
The solicitor could also do with a good slapping. Pre trial review? How much is that costing me then? Must be claiming he can't afford a lawyer after his five grand fine for gobbing on a Celtic fan.

tony draper
25th May 2005, 16:59
I think we are unknowingly taking part in a vast pcychological experiment, the powers that be are just trying out one piss taking outrage on the public after another, they wish to see how far they can push us before we take to the streets and start hanging a few people from lamp posts, I figure they have to push a bit further yet.

:rolleyes:

Tone
25th May 2005, 17:04
P'raps not much further Drapes, got any string?

Flying Lawyer
25th May 2005, 22:07
”The solicitor could also do with a good slapping.”
Far from it. The solicitor would have been much better off if the defendant hadn’t applied for public funding. He could then have charged his normal hourly rate for private work. Publicly funded work is very poorly paid in comparison, but lawyers either undertake to do it or they don't - there's no 'halfway house' which allows them to pick and choose which publicly funded cases they are prepared to do.

Until the systemt changed in 2001, a solicitor would have advised a wealthy/high-earning defendant there was no point in applying for legal aid because he wouldn’t be eligible under the means test.
Under the new system, there is no means test.
So, should a solicitor keep quiet and charge a wealthy client his normal hourly rate - and not tell him that, regardless of his wealth or income, he is entitled to apply for his defence to be paid for completely out of public funds?

”Pre trial review? How much is that costing me then?”
Peanuts, at publicly funded rates.

”Must be claiming he can't afford a lawyer”
He doesn’t have to.
In 2001, the government introduced the Criminal Defence Service which replaced the old criminal legal aid system. Defendants means are no longer taken into account when they apply for their defence to be paid for out of public funds.
If a case is heard in the Crown Court, a judge can order a defendant to repay some or all of the costs of his defence at the end of the case.
However, for some reason I don’t know, Magistrates' Courts were not given that power so the tax-payer pays for the defence.

If you think the system is ridiculous, as many people (including many lawyers) do, blame the government.

Standard Noise
25th May 2005, 23:51
I do blame the government, which for the last 8 years has been headed by a certain Tony Bliar, you may have heard of him, he's a chancing [email protected] who's taking us all for a ride. Then I get flamed for always moaning about this dodgy Bliar charactar, usually by the feckless English asses who voted him in in the first place.

You just can't win!:hmm:

tinpis
26th May 2005, 00:04
Legal aid is available to those in Australia who can afford it.:hmm:

XXTSGR
26th May 2005, 03:03
That's ok, then - we sent quite a lot of criminals there! :} :}

Scumbag O'Riley
26th May 2005, 10:32
Flying Lawyer, spare me the pain of having to feel sorry for the solicitor who is not getting his 'normal hourly rate'. If he could get his normal hourly rate he would, unless you believe he is doing this as a charity case. Nobody knows what the solictor's normal hourly rate is, it's probably highly inflated and he probably seldom gets it. His 'normal hourly rate' may well be what we taxpayers pay him because nobody else will. You don't know his 'normal hourly rate' and neither do I, I am surprised you would thrown such an uncertainty into the discussion, but maybe not.

"Peanuts, at publically funded rates"

It maybe peanuts to you who wants his 'normally hourly rate', but to most working men and women it will be a decent wage. It's those hard working men and women who are paying these "peanuts" to the solicitor. If it was me, I'd tell the convicted gobber on £40 grand a week to get out of my office and find somebody else to do the job, unless he wanted to pay my 'normal hourly rate' when I would happily provide him with the defence he deserves as an innocent man (as naturally his past form of gobbing on people has nothing to do with the present accusation whatsoever).

scrubed
26th May 2005, 10:51
He's pulling the pizz outa ya. He spits on a tax-payer, then uses taxpayer's dough to defend himself.

Why don't you throw him outa the country???

He gets to stay just because you like to watch him kick a ball around? Or because he says you're racist if you make him leave?

Take a look at yourselves, poms. You're being taken for a ride by EVERYone else.

Too late........ :uhoh: (wobble)

lexxity
26th May 2005, 11:25
I do blame the government, which for the last 8 years has been headed by a certain Tony Bliar, you may have heard of him, he's a chancing [email protected] who's taking us all for a ride. Then I get flamed for always moaning about this dodgy Bliar charactar, usually by the feckless English asses who voted him in in the first place.

:ok: :ok: :ok: :ok: couldn't agree more.

Paterbrat
26th May 2005, 11:48
Err yup me too. Succinctly put and heartily endorsed by moi. Wonder if the, or back pain has stopped the self abuse or was it genetic.

Flying Lawyer
26th May 2005, 14:16
Scumbag

When I post facts (as distinct from opinions) about the law or the legal system, they are precisely that - facts. Whether you choose to take them into account and become better informed, or continue to enjoy your ill-informed prejudices, is entirely up to you.

I've learned an enormous amount about a wide range of topics by reading PPRuNe and, when a discussion is one to which I can contribute some facts, I try to give something back. However, I'm nnot naive. I realise there will always be some people won't allow facts to get in the way of a good prejudice.

Please, don't even consider feeling sorry for any lawyer. I've never met a poor solicitor yet. Nor, apart those in the very early years of their careers, have I ever met a poor barrister.
My rates for privately-funded work are anything up to 4-5 times what the government pays for publicly-funded work. I won't say what my rates are because I'm concerned about your blood pressure - but you can take it from me you'd be absolutely disgusted. Thankfully, in the competitive market in which I compete, there are plenty of people and companies able and willing to pay those rates, so I have no incentive to reduce them. (There are barristers who charge less, and more - market forces, normal laws of demand and supply etc)
It also enables me to do poorly paid publicly-funded work and, in appropriate cases, to give my time free of charge. On average, that's about 8-10 hours a week. Perhaps you give your skills free of charge for more hours than that? If you do, I congratulate you.

Do I feel guilty about my market rates?
I feel about as guilty as the plumber who charges me more per hour than the government pays lawyers for doing publicly-funded work, and charges me more because I live in Chelsea than he'd charge someone in a less affluent area two miles away. Market forces, normal laws of demand and supply again. I'm sure someone would explain how they work if you're interested in learning some time.

Scumbag O'Riley
26th May 2005, 15:37
Please tell me Flying Lawyer, what did your last post have to do with anything said previously in this thread?

Standard Noise
26th May 2005, 16:37
Maybe Tony Bliar should resign and go back to being a lawyer, he'd be able to pay for that huge white elephant he's got, instead of us (and children's cancer charities) doing it, now, what was her name?

Sorry, just me being frivolous, but if he went back to being a lawyer and charged "normal hourly rates", then he could afford to pay for that huge house he can't afford on his 175k a year as a poorly paid PM.

As for the footballer in question, Hardup Doofus or whatever he's called, whoever signs off his legal aid claim ought to be named and shamed, then birched. Oh and let's remember, it was a child he spat at in this case. Lovely manners, eh!?:mad: :mad:

Justiciar
26th May 2005, 18:40
Well, I haven't been on this forum for a while and I see the same old arguments and Flying Lawyer still dodging the brick-bats.

Like many solicitors I gave up publically funded work because of, amongst other things, the [email protected] poor pay and the unsocial hours. When I had to employ a plumber on a Saturday morning to clear out my drains he charged me £78 per hour plus VAT, which at the time was over £10 an hour more than I had been paid for being at the police station at 1 am dealing with a case the previous night. The rates have barely, if at all changed in the 2 years since and they had barely changed in the previous 8 years. Meantime, salaries to staff, rates, etc had climbed at about 4% annually.

My 'normal hourly rate' for the commercial work is £150, which is about £40 less than the average for the area and less than virtually any other professional (accountant, dentist, private doctor). It is a market rate. Do I apologise for it? No I [email protected]@dy don't!

Everything FL has said about why this individual got legal aid is absolutely correct - the government chose to abolish means testing for legal aid in criminal cases because the cost of running it and collecting contributions exceeded the money saved.

If you do't like it speak to your MP.

Wedge
26th May 2005, 19:13
Not only that but I hear, having discussed it with several criminal lawyers recently, the government are introducing new rules which are going to take us down the American 'public defender' route, whereby one local solicitor will be awarded a contract for all of the criminal defence work, and if charged with an offence you will no longer be able to choose your solicitor (unless of course you are willing and able to pay for them yourself).

Young legal aid lawyers are barely paying the rent these days, contrary to the popular public misconception that all lawyers are coining it.

Scumbag O'Riley
26th May 2005, 21:11
Justiciar,

What brickbats is Flying Lawyer dodging then? Do you think Joe Public should sympathise with you for only making £68 per hour? I really have no interest in how much you make per hour unless I am paying for it; when it's on legal aid I humbly submit that I am.

Wedge. And about time too.

XXTSGR
26th May 2005, 21:22
Scumbag, you clearly missed the point Justiciar was making - that £68/hr is not his for the pocketing.

Out of that he has to pay his office staff, rates, office heating & lighting, etc. etc. So how much would you estimate is left for the guy who had to turn out of bed at 01:00 am to the local nick to interview a suspect and still be in court the following morning bright & early?

Justiciar
26th May 2005, 21:34
...and of course the American system is characterised by the poorest defendants facing the most serious (sometimes capital) offences being represented by the least able lawyers, they being reduced to doing publically funded work as that is the only job they can get.

Do you think Joe Public should sympathise with you for only making £68 per hour?

No, I think you should sympathise with the very many people too poor to afford a solicitor, not just for criminal cases but for many civil law disputes as well, who now can't find one because the profession has turned it back on a poorly paid and bureaucratic legal aid system. There are now many areas of the country where finding a solicitor able to offer legal aid is as difficult as finding an NHS dentist (who have given up publically funded work for the same reasons).

I claim no entitlement to any sympathy as I have plenty of clients willing and able to pay my fees at the rate I have already referred to. I earn much more than I did doing legal aid work, I work regular hours now and I don't get woken in the middle of the night on a regular basis as I used to. As FL said, it is supply and demand. With legal aid work, there is increasing demand which is no longer met with supply.

The problem with certain people's perspective is that they never envisage themselves getting into the position of needing criminal defence - it is something which only ever hapens to someone else - who of course are guilty anyway (why else would the police have charged them - we know they always get it right!) so why should he get a publically funded defence.

Wedge: You are correct, though it wont be only one firm in an area though in some parts of the country the number of firms doing the work will be much reduced.

XXTSGR: A very sound point, and the essence of why people are leaving the work in droves.

Scumbag O'Riley
27th May 2005, 10:06
Justiciar (and FL).

The thread is about a guy on £40k per week getting legal aid to defend him on a charge of gobbing on somebody. I fully agree that in the private marketplace you can charge what you like, and I have far more better things to worry about than how much you charge other people. My blood pressure is fine and I will not tell you how much I earn because my mummy told me its impolite unless you know somebody well.

It's not about somebody on £68 per week getting public assistance to defend himself against the resources of the State.

Even so, £68 per hour works out at 2k a week (30 hours billing). Thats 100k per year, plenty for a freshly minted solicitor to pay his beer tab and overdraft - with plenty left over to pay for his office space and the senior partners new merc. I would imagine there are plenty of very good newly qualified solicitors who are quite capable of spending a few years in the magistrates courts gaining experience and getting a decent wage for a recent graduate, lets say £40k per year. If a firm of solicitors in a free market want to quote for public defending let them do it.

Mr Chips
27th May 2005, 10:49
Umm.. just a couple of quck points if I may...

What a plumber earns is nothing to do with what a solicitor earns.. just because he charges a lot, doesn't mean you can... (parable of the vineyard if you are biblically minded)

And secondly, English people did NOT vote for Bliar.. the Tories polled more votes in Engalnd than Labour did

Flying Lawyer
27th May 2005, 19:39
Mr Chips

What a plumber earns is nothing to do with what a solicitor earns.
Agreed. Market forces apply to both.
I may (and do) think lawyers should earn more per hour than plumbers but it's market forces that ultimately dictate whether they do.
I may (and do) think £250 a day is too much for a plumber but that's what they demand around here so, if I need one, I begrudgingly accept that's what I've got to pay.

"just because he charges a lot, doesn't mean you can..."
Agreed.
That's not why I charge a lot.

Why is the parable of the vineyard relevant?
Jesus wasn't giving a lesson in economics. He used the parable to explain that God (the generous vineyard owner) will give us the same full reward (the kingdom of heaven) regardless of when we ask Him into our lives (start working in the vineyard) - even if it's at the very last moment of our lives (the labourers who didn't start until the end of the day).

ORAC
27th May 2005, 20:20
Tisk, tisk, a lawyer quoting hearsay evidence?......

Val d'Isere
28th May 2005, 06:03
As a taxpayer, having to cough up for spitting takes some swallowing.

Maybe I should be more phlegmatic (tongue in cheek).



Apologies for my dry sense of humour. :p

Mr Chips
28th May 2005, 22:52
Flying lawyer my comment was actually aimed at Justicair, not you.... i would have to have a very strong argument before taking you on!

The parable of the vineyard. Workers were paid teh same rate whatever time they started. The vineyard owner said (in essence) you agreed a rate for the job. What I pay others is not your concern

You agree a rate for a plumber.. doesn't mean that you in turn should be highly remunerated...

Justiciar
29th May 2005, 11:44
Very True - Mr Chips.

But my point is that a very valuable service is being lost to the country by poor rates of pay and conditions. This is not unique to lawyers. Anyone who has no pay rise for several years, suffers an increase in bureaucracy just to do the same job and who sees other professionals doing different types of work earning much more will vote with their feet. Once their skills are lost they will be very difficult to replace.

To come back to the point of this thread, the government virtually nationalise criminal work by decreeing that anyone with an arguable case could get legal aid, irrespective of means. As a result, the consept of acting for people on a fee paying basis for criminal work has virtually disappeared. In this case in question, the lawyer was under a professional obligation to draw to his client's attention the possibility of legal aid. Perhaps he was hoping legal aid would be refused, in which case he could then charge his client a private rate for the job.

airship
29th May 2005, 14:35
Cross :mad: examination...

XXTSGR said: Scumbag, you clearly missed the point Justiciar was making - that £68/hr is not his for the pocketing.

Out of that he has to pay his office staff, rates, office heating & lighting, etc. etc. So how much would you estimate is left for the guy who had to turn out of bed at 01:00 am to the local nick to interview a suspect and still be in court the following morning bright & early? May I bring to the court's attention his phrase "and still be in court the following morning bright & early"? which referred to Justiciar's previous statement: Like many solicitors I gave up publically funded work because of, amongst other things, the [email protected] poor pay and the unsocial hours. When I had to employ a plumber on a Saturday morning to clear out my drains he charged me £78 per hour plus VAT, which at the time was over £10 an hour more than I had been paid for being at the police station at 1 am dealing with a case the previous night. The rates have barely, if at all changed in the 2 years since and they had barely changed in the previous 8 years. Meantime, salaries to staff, rates, etc had climbed at about 4% annually. Considering that "the following morning" to which XXTSGR was referring would in fact be a Saturday, would this court not agree that the witness may be unreliable with a tendency to somewhat exaggerate...? Being a Saturday, when most courts have already adjourned for the weekend anyway? And that Justiciar himself was on that very Saturday morning employing the services of a plumber who was unreasonably charging him a small fortune for the services rendered...? :O




Also, Flying Lawyer said: I may (and do) think lawyers should earn more per hour than plumbers but it's market forces that ultimately dictate whether they do.
I may (and do) think £250 a day is too much for a plumber but that's what they demand around here so, if I need one, I begrudgingly accept that's what I've got to pay.

Moments ago, plumbers were earning £78+VAT an hour, when suddenly we're informed that plumbers nearer to Flying Lawyer only earn £250 per day, which is still too much. The discrepancy here, of £250 per day combined with the rate of £78 per hour, might lead some to conclude that plumbers, like lawyers, only work just 3.2 hours a day...?! :E

Strangely enough, both plumbers and lawyers today are represented by quite powerful professional bodies. In the old days, you'd have called them trades unions though... :uhoh:

Flying Lawyer
29th May 2005, 18:09
It seems to depend whether they are doing a 'small' job charged at an hourly rate plus minimum 'call out' fee or a longer job charged by the day.
I'm doing some alterations at the moment and I'm assured by the architect that my Polish plumber @ £250 per day is an amazing bargain when compared with what British plumbers charge. :eek:

In fairness, the Polish chap not only does a good job, but actually turns up when he says he will - and genuinely works a full day. I'm pleased I've got him before he picks up British builders' habits. :)


3.2 hours a day?
If only!
I average about 12 hours a day; more if there's urgent work to be done.

BTW, practising barristers are all self-employed. There's no agreed or 'union' rate. We each exist on our own reputation and our clerks (who agree our fees) charge what the market appears to think we're worth. If they pitch it too high, our clients (solicitors) would use another barrister.

For publicly-funded work, the government decides what to pay us. We have no choice but to accept the rates we're offered (unless we opt out of public work altogether) because we have no bargaining power. Can you see barristers striking, or threatening to strike, generating much public support? :D

Justiciar
29th May 2005, 21:18
Being a Saturday, when most courts have already adjourned for the weekend anyway

Almost all courts sit on a Saturday to deal with cases where the police have charged and then denied bail. It is by no means unusual for those courts to go on most of the day. A duty solicitor has to be present but a number of other solicitors are usually there to represent their own clients. And, it certainly was not unusual for me to have a late night /early morning at the station followed a few hours later by another day in court.

The average rate for all criminal work when I left it two years ago was about £56 / hour, taking into account all the different rates for different types of work at different times of the day. The average criminal lawyer in my firm worked about 1500 chargeable hours a year, on top of which was all the non chargeable time on file management, ticking boxes, supervision etc. Profit margins for this type of work average 30% due to all the various overheads, so the picture is not nearly as rosy as Mr. Scumbag O'Riley paints. Hence, so many lawyers want to do something else and those in crime would jump at the charge of a private, fee paying client.

Miserlou
29th May 2005, 22:12
On saturday and sunday, they do no work at all.
So 'twas on the monday morning when the gas man came to call!