New Judgment: Raymond Brownlee’s application for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland)  UKSC 4
29 Wednesday Jan 2014
On appeal from:  NICA 57.
Concerns the provision of Legal Aid in criminal proceedings in Northern Ireland. After the close of the prosecution’s case, Brownlee’s counsel ceased to act for him, although the trial continued. Following conviction, Brownlee applied for judicial review of LSC’s decision not to allow any modification of the standard fees to be paid for the sentencing hearing in his case, as his solicitors were unable to instruct counsel to act for him at the hearing owing to the absence of a fee for preparation.
Held: the assessment and payment of fees to a legal representative who has replaced another at the sentencing stage of criminal proceedings was, self-evidently, a material consideration that should have been taken into account by the rule-making body that amended the Crown Court Proceedings (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2005 in 2011 to remove the provision allowing for the payment of exceptional fees. This failure to have regard to a relevant factor justified judicial review of the decision to amend the Rules in 2011 without making provision for the payment of fees that would properly reflect the preparatory work which a legal representative, new to the case at the sentencing stage, would have to undertake.