The new AGFS scheme is due to come into force on the 1st April, 2018. Furnival Chambers, like many other criminal sets of Chambers, submitted a detailed response to the Consultation process setting out our grave concerns about the scheme and identifying serious injustices in the fee structure proposed. Those concerns do not seem to have been heeded. We have carried out a detailed analysis of the effects of the new scheme on individual tenants and Chambers as a whole compared with the existing one and have concluded that the new scheme will have an unsustainable and catastrophic effect on the publicly funded Criminal Bar.
We fully support the Criminal Bar Association in its efforts to right the obvious injustices in the scheme and fully support the proposed actions set out in today’s release. We wish to announce that we, as a Chambers, will refuse to accept any publicly funded criminal defence work under the new scheme with legal aid orders dated from the 1st April, 2018. This decision has the support of 100% of our tenants who have all given us their individual views. The new scheme fundamentally undermines both the viability and career structure of the Criminal Bar and the sustainability of the Chambers structure upon which the independent Bar is based. We have all responded to the CBA Survey in similar terms. We will fully support the CBA’s proposed actions both now and in the future in order to try and rectify this flawed scheme.
We will, of course, continue to cooperate fully in any further consultations in an effort to achieve a fair and equitable fee structure for the Criminal Bar.