New AGFS plan will mean fairer pay for advocates

Posted On: 
5th January 2017

The Bar Council and the Young Barristers’ Committee welcome new proposals published today by the Ministry of Justice which will mean barristers and other advocates will be paid fairly for the work they do in publicly funded criminal cases. The new, fairer Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), if implemented, will mean barristers’ fees are no longer based on outdated and distorting factors such as the number of pages in a case, but instead are paid according to the seriousness and complexity of the work.

Andrew Langdon QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: “These proposals go a considerable way towards restoring career progression at the criminal Bar. The suggested scheme is a fairer way of rewarding advocates for their work in the criminal publicly-funded sphere. It removes a number of perverse incentives  arising from years of salami-slice and piecemeal cuts.  It will better protect newly qualified advocates who under the vagaries of the present scheme are at the mercy of events not under their control. The new scheme is also a positive example of the Ministry of Justice participating in constructive dialogue with the profession through the Bar Council, Criminal Bar Association, Circuits and Young Bar. The Ministry has produced a model which will replace a scheme which has become outmoded and contorted. This new scheme is rational and will result in a more sustainable career for skilled advocates.  We are urging the Bar to respond to this important consultation. It provides a surer foundation for the future.”

The new AGFS proposals (include link) include:

  •            Fees based on the seriousness and complexity of the work done,
  •            Restoration of separate payments for PTPH, sentence and mentions,
  •            Restoration of payment for the second day of every trial,
  •            Payment of £300 for trials which become ineffective,
  •            No more arguments over the service of material as evidence,
  •            A near four-fold increase in offence categories to capture the seriousness and complexity of cases,
  •            Restoration of career progression - earnings increase as the work becomes more challenging, and
  •            Encouragement for advocates with the necessary skills to take on more complex cases. 

Duncan McCombe, Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee, said: “It goes without saying that no scheme is going to be absolutely perfect. There are a few modest drops in the base amounts for payments for some cases. But the clear advantage is that young barristers will be paid for their time in court, rather than being paid on an arbitrary basis, and will paid for each appearance rather than feeling like every other case is a loss leader. The scheme also provides the groundwork for newly qualified barristers to have a sustainable career in their early years, and beyond. The young Bar needs a scheme that incentivises progression to more complex and serious cases.”