Eddie Stobart subsiduary, Stobart Barristers has entered the legal ring to provide direct public access in criminal cases.
‘Stobart Barristers’ was formed last year charging fixed fees and using paralegals to instruct their team of barristers.
Stobart’s legal director Trevor Howarth said,
“We can deliver the service at a cost that’s palatable for the taxpayer, our business model was developed with this in mind”
“We …are well known for taking out the waste, and the waste here is the duplication of solicitors going to the courtroom. At the moment there are 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn’t use 10 trucks to deliver one product.”
Trevor Howarth has developed some insight into the legal process. He is shortly to face trial for contempt of court , although it has to be said that the background to the allegations is decidedly murky. But, no doubt it places him in an informed position to comment on the provision of legal services.
In my previous blog ‘The Price is Right we looked at the impact of third party investors moving into the legal market place. There, holding company LawVest introduced their Riverview concept, causing both consternation and interest amongst legal professionals. Other recent entrants include Parabis.
The Bar Council, spearheaded by current Chair Maura McGowan, has launched its 38 degrees petition to oppose the move to competitive tendering for publicly funded criminal defence contracts.
Whilst understanding the potential for problems, the blogger does not share the Bar Council’s calamity vision.
We are, after all, dealing with public money, a finite resource. A proper legal service for the defence of criminal charges is essential, but not at unsustainable cost. The proliferation of criminal defence practices during the blogger’s career has not added to the quality of representation, as neither has the higher rights of audience for solicitors improved the legal landscape.
Is the time not right for those who spend public money being more accountable for the costs?
With direct public access to an expert barrister, should the Bar not be focussing its attention on obtaining and managing public funded contracts, rather than supporting the disparate high street solicitors practices of the past?