Legal Aid loophole

  TopCat® 21:44 06 May 2008

Quote: 'A drugs offender has escaped having about £1.5m of his assets seized because he could not find a barrister to represent him for a legal aid fee....' Why oh why do our legislators tend to leave these gaps in the law? TC. click here

  ray7 22:12 06 May 2008

How is he entitled to legal aid with assets of 1.5 million

  peter99co 22:13 06 May 2008

His "assets" are 4.5 million

  Forum Editor 22:39 06 May 2008

was that not one of the 30 legal firms contacted was prepared to take on a case that only paid £175 a day.

  Chegs ®™ 22:45 06 May 2008

Q:How is he entitled to legal aid with assets of 1.5 million

A:The offender, who cannot be identified, was unable to use the frozen assets to pay for a barrister as that is prohibited under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

  ray7 23:07 06 May 2008

I see the legal reason he was not allowed to pay for his own barrister but the Court were seeking to confiscate only 1.5 million, which would have left him with 3 million. It seems ludicrous that rather him spend some of what he would have retained for his defence, the Court would have paid for it in Legal Aid and now it looks as though he'll end up with the lot. The Law is certainly an ass.

  belfman 11:38 07 May 2008

Take most of it off him, plain and simple, leaving him with a few grand. The few grand left - well he could gamble it on the Courts to see if he can get his loot back and if he loses he goes to jail.

  spuds 11:38 07 May 2008

Some law firms and legal people seem to survive very well on legal aid payments, especially if its to do with Human Rights.

Perhaps going a step further, didn't two brothers whose father owned a very large publishing group, used legal aid. History as also shown, that other well known celebrities have also been allowed legal aid, for their intentions in trying to obtain justice.

  Forum Editor 19:00 07 May 2008

I must remember to express 'only' like that in future - It was the absolute v relative point that I was trying to make.

A client of mine is an eminent international human rights lawyer, and he often works for far less than £175 a day when representing clients in, say, the Caribbean, or in mainland China.
On the other hand, he works for very much more when he's being a corporate lawyer in Europe or America. I was surprised that noboody was prepared to take this case because, as spuds points out, many lawyers work almost exlusively in the Legal Aid sector.

  Admiral Allstar 22:41 08 May 2008

mmm. Interesting that the BBC didnt go into as much detail as the Times click here

The offender was found guilty for (and I quote)

“So although this defendant was convicted of offences only involving a few hundred pounds’ worth of cannabis, he found himself at risk of losing £4.5 million worth of assets – with the burden on him to prove that they were not ill-gotten gains. On top of that, he was prohibited from using those assets for his own defence.”

Seems we are using a hammer to crack an egg. We only have the police's word for it that the £4.5m was the result of criminal activity. It is only right (even if you dont agree with the law) that this man should enjoy his wealth unless and until the law can prove otherwise.

  Totally-braindead 23:10 08 May 2008

Admiral Allstar I completely disagree. If he has earned this money legally through investments or whatever it should be relativeely easy for him to provide proof of where the money came from.

But if the onus was on the Police or the government to find out where all this money came from this could cost an absolute fortune and would take hundreds if not thousands of hours to find the info, if you could find the info as if the money was illegally gained he would have done all he could to make it look like legal income. And this is only one case.
If its legally earned all he has to do is show his records and prove it. You are not going to tell me that someone has £4.5 million and cannot provide any evidence of where it came from if it is in fact legally aquired.

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