Appeal over halted fraud trial
3rd Jun 2014
The Court of Appeal is to hear a legal challenge against a judge’s decision to halt a serious fraud trial after the defendants said legal aid cuts meant they could not find barristers to represent them.
The case was brought last year by the FCA against eight men, five of whom were subject to the ruling. It concerned the activities of Plott UK Ltd, European Property Investments Ltd and Stirling Alexander Ltd between 2008 and 2011.
In protest at the 30% cut, many barristers are refusing to take on the most complex cases.
The defence team in the fraud case had contacted 70 barrister chambers in their search for suitable representation. Only one barrister put himself forward, and he later withdrew his services. It had been feared the defendants would have to defend themselves, but prosecutors agree that this would have been a breach of their human rights.
The case against the men was “complex and substantial”, the court heard. It involved 46,030 pages of evidence and 864,000 lines of spreadsheet data.