In the Media

Bar attacks HCA role

PUBLISHED August 13, 2007

The Crown Prosecution Service?s (CPS) increased use of ?inexperienced and insufficiently senior? in-house advocates is causing delay and inefficiency, and will lead to miscarriages of justice, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has claimed.

Chairman Andy Hall QC said he had received repeated complaints from practitioners and judges that CPS higher court advocates (HCAs) were routinely appearing in cases which were beyond their experience and ability, and returning contested and complex cases hearings late and with inadequate preparation.

Mr Hall said that contrary to the ?case ownership? principles recommended by Lord Carter, HCAs were routinely conducting all plea and case management hearings in a particular court, with no intention of appearing as the trial advocate and, as a result, adjourning hearings unnecessarily for want of preparation or because they were unable to make decisions without reference to others.

?This is not only unfair, in the sense that the fixed fee for a case as a whole is depleted, but causes significant additional systemic cost as a result of inefficiency and delay,? said Mr Hall.

A CPS spokeswoman said all CPS HCAs were fully qualified and experienced, and feedback from the judiciary was predominantly positive