Revised Fees Schemes for Prosecution Advocates
Following a comprehensive, evidence-based review of advocate fee schemes, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will implement a range of reforms to the fees paid to prosecution Counsel from 1 February 2020. This follows the introduction of an interim package of measures on 1 September this year.
The review, which began in March, considered the changing demands now made of prosecution advocates, including the growth in digital evidence and the increasing complexity of criminal cases. It involved a detailed analysis of 3,000 Crown Court case files, as well as regular open meetings with criminal practitioners across England and Wales.
The CPS has now confirmed the revised rates which will apply across each of the prosecution fees schemes, which address concerns raised by the profession, such as remuneration for unused material, and payment rates in trials involving multiple defendants.
CPS Chief Executive Rebecca Lawrence said: “Prosecution advocates from the self-employed Bar play an essential role in our criminal justice system, and make a vital contribution to the work of the CPS. We undertook this detailed review to develop a fees scheme for the future, which is fair and affordable.
“I am grateful for the constructive approach taken by a great many members of the criminal Bar, which has been invaluable. Their candid and robust engagement means we have been able to make comprehensive reforms based on a deep understanding of what is involved in a modern prosecution case.”
Changes which will be made from 1 February 2020 include:
- increasing a range of daily (refresher) fees;
- introducing additional payments for the prosecution of multi-defendant cases;
- increasing a range of brief fees, for trial and guilty plea cases, for junior advocates;
- providing additional payment for consideration of unused material;
- making targeted adjustments to the Very High Cost Case scheme; and
- increasing rates paid to advocates prosecuting in magistrates’ courts and the Youth Court.
The CPS previously agreed to fast-track reforms of five significant aspects of the fees scheme to address priority issues identified in the early stages of the review. In September, to help to ensure fairness and parity for prosecution counsel, the following adjustments were introduced:
- all fixed fees were increased to the level of the Advocates’ Graduated Fees Scheme, which sets payment levels for defence advocates;
- continuation fees (“refreshers”) are now paid from the second day of trial, rather than the third day;
- continuation fees in long running trials are no longer reduced from day 41;
- full fees are being paid from the first day of the trial, with a new definition of the start of the trial; and
- payment is being made earlier at the conclusion of the trial, where sentence is adjourned.
The CPS will continue to work closely with the legal profession, including leadership from the Bar Council, the Criminal Bar Association and the Young Barristers’ Committee, on the implementation of the full range of new fees, and to review outstanding aspects of the fees schemes. The fees schemes will be kept under continuing review in future to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Notes to editors
- The full text of the letter from CPS Chief Executive Rebecca Lawrence’s letter to members of the Criminal Bar is available on the CPS website.
- The interim offer, agreed with the Criminal Bar Association and the Bar Council, was announced on 12 June and implemented on 1 September.
- The Graduated Fees Scheme was introduced in 2001. There was a cost neutral restructuring of rates in 2012, before a 5% across the board reduction was applied. At that time all Government departments were making spending reductions.