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Appeal Committee Ruling 2 of 2020 - R v D

|Publication

GFS Appeals Committee

R-v- [REDACTED]

Appeal of [REDACTED]

1.    Introduction

The case of [REDACTED] and others was listed for PTPH in [REDACTED] at [REDACTED]. The subject of the appeal is in relation to the ongoing multi-defendant case of [REDACTED] and specifically the non-payment of defendant uplifts in respect of the guilty plea entered at PTPH on [REDACTED] by [REDACTED].

Prosecution advocate was – [REDACTED]

The specifics of this case:

The key facts are undisputed. [REDACTED] is one of six defendants in this case, involving a conspiracy to supply illegal drugs.  His five co-defendants appeared at a PTPH on [REDACTED].  All entered not guilty pleas and were adjourned for trial on [REDACTED].  [REDACTED] did not appear at the PTPH on [REDACTED]. Instead, he appeared alone at a PTPH on [REDACTED]. He pleaded guilty at that hearing.
Counsel appeals on the following issue: 

Counsel submits that the effect of the Fees Manual is that, in a multi-handed case such as the present, additional defendant fee uplifts are payable in respect of a PTPH where a defendant pleads guilty, irrespective of whether the other defendants also appear at that hearing. Counsel contends that this arises from a “literal reading” of the relevant paragraphs of the Fees Manual.

Counsel further submits that, unless his submission is accepted, paragraph 104 would not have any application in circumstances such as those of the present case. Counsel contends that the interpretation of the Fees Manual he advocates is consistent with the purpose of the uplift regime, which is to “pay counsel for work undertaken where there are multiple defendants because it is understood that counsel’s work load is increased where there are multiple defendant charged on an indictment.”

For its part, the CPS submits that fees are not paid in respect of linked cases or defendants where they are not listed together at the same hearing.

The CPS agrees with counsel that the effect of its interpretation of the Fees Manual is that paragraph 104 has no application to hearings where only one defendant appears:

Paragraph 104 provides:

“104.  An uplift is payable for each additional defendant (See paragraphs 93-98).”

The CPS has stated that the case should be paid as per the guidance published, namely a guilty plea fee for a single defendant [REDACTED] with no defendant uplifts applied.

The Fees Appeals Committee has considered the following documents before arriving at their decision:

  • GFS Manual of Guidance scheme D
  • Taxation note [REDACTED]
  • Taxation Appeal [REDACTED] 
  • Final written reasons [REDACTED]
  • Further Taxation note of Appeal [REDACTED] 

2.    Findings

The Committee considered the information advanced by counsel as well as all the other documentation listed above, including the relevant paragraphs of the Manual of Guidance.

The committee concluded that the interpretation of the relevant paragraphs of the Fees Manual put forward by the CPS is correct. The effect of paragraph 104, when read (as it must be) with paragraphs 93 to 98, is that an additional defendant uplift is available only in a multi-handed case such as the present when more than one defendant appears at a single, main hearing. Accordingly, an uplift is not available in the present case, where only one defendant - [REDACTED] - appeared at the PTPH.

Paragraph 104 expressly refers to paragraphs 93 to 98 and cannot, therefore, be read in isolation. It takes its meaning and effect, in part, from paragraphs 93 to 98 and must be construed in that context.

Because they are referred to in paragraph 104, paragraphs 93 to 98, which deal with additional defendant uplifts, are also relevant (although there is no suggestion that all those paragraphs have a bearing on this case). Paragraph 93 provides:

“93.  For cases on indictment, an uplift of 5% of the standard or enhanced base fee is payable for the second defendant and for each subsequent defendant at a main hearing in the principal case.”

As regards paragraph 93, the view of the panel was that, like paragraph 104, it does not state that “a co-defendant’s case must be listed or heard at the same time as the guilty plea.” To the contrary, paragraph 93 says that an uplift is “payable for the second defendant and for each subsequent defendant at a main hearing in the principal case”. The inclusion of the word “at” in this paragraph is material and has the effect of limiting uplifts to those cases where multiple defendants actually appear “at” a single hearing. Where a hearing takes place and only one defendant appears, the co-defendants have not been “at” the hearing in terms of paragraph 93.

Counsel has also referred to paragraph 96.

“96. Where cases are heard together and main hearings result, the advocate must elect a principal case upon which the main hearing fee will be paid. Defendant uplifts are not paid for defendants on the unelected case(s) (see paragraph 88).”

Paragraph 96 applies where “cases are heard together and main hearings result”. Thus, it applies where multiple cases are dealt with in a single hearing - a conclusion confirmed by the reference in paragraph 96 to paragraph 88. Paragraph 96, therefore, has no relevance to the present case, which did not involve multiple cases heard together at the PTPH.

The committee are content that paragraph 104 of the Manual of Guidance has been applied correctly.

3.    Ruling

For reasons outlined above the appeal is dismissed.

The Fees Appeal Committee convened to consider the appeal on [REDACTED].

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