Nationalise the Top 100 Barristers?

The PDS is in the news again. Not only is its use, as an alternative to the “self employed” Criminal Bar, under consideration in the context of Op Cotton, one of it’s advocates is instructed by the Lord Chancellor at today’s appeal hearing. This is an interesting side issue in and of itself.

Last week VHCC firms also received some gentle encouragement to consider a PDS advocate in the absence of anyone else. This of course is providing they are not off sick, allowed overtime beyond their contractual hours or not tied up defending Chris Grayling.

The rationale for the PDS expansion was never fully expounded. (Obviously full comparative costings were not supplied – the MoJ has consistently failed to provide any financial justification for the mainstream solicitor service).  So we will never know if it was a kneejerk response to the pending VHCC boycott or not.

In any event, as today’s court case demonstrates, the PDS is nothing more than a fig leaf. It could not provide sufficient advocates to cover the Op Cotton trial, even before it became clear that 2 thirds of its Silks are on sick leave. However if this was the intent it is about as ill conceived and idea as, say, Price Competitive Tendering.

Why? Try this single question – how much would it cost the taxpayer to provided advocates, employed on 37-hours a week contracts, for all the anticipated VHCC cases? Less than the fees to the self-employed Bar or HCAs? I very much doubt it. Add into that issues such as sick leave and you have a costly and unwieldy anachronism unable to stand any value for money comparison to private practice.


Moments after I posted this – look what popped up on Twitter from the South East CircuitPDS Facts



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2 comments on “Nationalise the Top 100 Barristers?

  • Ah…..37 hour weeks…..40.5 days leave…..privilege days….generous pension….

    Oops, sorry, I must have been dreaming.

  • I saw these figures floating around twitter (@TimothyThomas79), interesting reading, though the PDS could not undertake the case in a year if they only worked their 37 hours (will they be paid overtime?)

    Preparation for case (1080) hours) = 29.2 weeks
    Hearing 80 days = 16 weeks
    Leave and privilege days = 8.1 weeks
    Total = 53.3 weeks

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