It’s important to have faith in your legal team. If you’re accused of conspiracy you may have a lot riding on the outcome of the case, and you need to know that you’ll get the best service.
If you have not been charged and have not yet been granted a “Representation Order” (legal aid) for the court proceedings, then transferring your case to us is simple and straightforward. If you are currently on police bail with another solicitor representing you, or you are unrepresented, get in touch now. We will almost certainly be able to represent you.
Whilst you have the right to apply for legal aid and be represented under a legal aid order if you qualify for public funding, we’re afraid that the law says that you do not have the right to chose a new solicitor once you have already selected legal representation. We disagree with that position because we feel that so long as work is not needlessly duplicated, a defendant facing a serious charge should be able to choose and have faith in their defence team.
The current position is different though: it is the court (usually a Crown Court Judge) who decides any application to transfer an existing case to a new solicitor. In some cases it may be possible to transfer your case to us where you have already been granted legal aid. It is however a difficult process and often the Court will refuse an application to transfer legal aid if the judge does not think the reasons are good enough.
In summary, the catchily-named Criminal Defence Service (General) (No.2) Regulations 2001 set out the reasons a judge may need to be satisfied of if an existing representation order is to be transferred. The possible reasons are:
- The existing solicitor has to withdraw from the case for professional reasons. In other words, the current solicitor has a conflict of interests or some major professional difficulty has arisen which means they can no longer act. If that’s the situation it will be they rather than the client who is walking away from the case. We’re always happy to help in this situation.
- There is a breakdown in the relationship between the client and the existing solicitor such that effective representation can no longer be provided. This means that the relationship between existing solicitor and client has totally broken down and the two can’t work together any more. This requires more than just a client preferring someone else. Examples could be where it can be demonstrated that previous representation has been based on wrong advice such that a client no longer has any faith at all in his current solicitor, or where a situation has arisen meaning that the client would want to have the previous solicitor cross-examined in the trial (for example if a no comment interview was given in the police station contrary to the client’s wishes). Talk to us if you think you’re in that situation.
- Through circumstances beyond their control, the existing solicitor can no longer represent the client. This could be where an existing solicitor has been taken ill or had their criminal department closed down, or where for some reason they’re no longer competent to handle the case. We’ll always be happy to help out.
- Finally, there is a catch-all “some other substantial compelling reason” exists. The use of both the words “substantial” and “compelling” means that judges should not lightly find this to be proved. Basically, whatever your concerns just get in touch and we’ll discuss it.
As you can see from the limited list of reasons, in recent years it has become more and more difficult to transfer legal aid. This is for two political reasons:
- Firstly, legal aid is paid for by the taxpayer. The legal aid budget is constantly being squeezed and the Government expect better value for a cheaper price. If a legal aid order is transferred from one form of solicitors to another, there is a cost consequence to the Government and the taxpayer. Judges are very reluctant to agree to a change in representation for this reason.
- Secondly, there is a perception by the judiciary that a change in representation will lead to delays in the case. Whilst this is often not the case, and we’ll always try to avoid delay if we can, that is the view taken from the Bench. In reality, many defendants have good reason to want to change their representation. They may be receiving poor client care, poor service and may even be getting bad advice.
Unfortunately the courts are not usually impressed by such criticisms and rarely order a transfer of legal aid on such grounds. If there is the potential for the current solicitor to encounter a professional difficulty in the case – such as a conflict of interest with another client he is representing – then a transfer of legal aid is much easier to achieve.
If you have an existing case and want to transfer to us it is important that you give us all relevant information so that we can assess whether a judge is likely to transfer your case, and the possible lawfully justifiable reasons for such a transfer. If at all possible we will arrange for someone to see you, but we’ll generally only do this if there is good reason – we’re in the business of providing high-quality representation, not the business of taking work from other firms needlessly. Sadly our experience is that many defendants are poorly served by their solicitors, and when we’re able to we will help you to achieve a better standard in your defence.
We will consider all requests from new clients to transfer to us and to transfer their legal aid. We’ll fully assess the situation and the transfer criteria. If we can take over your case we’ll be delighted to do so, and we hope so will you. It may be, however, that if there are not sufficient legal grounds to make an application for the transfer then we will regrettably not be able to take the case any further. We can always look at private funding if this is an option for the client. For details of funding your case privately, please contact us.
The lesson of course is that the earlier you contact Conspiracy Solicitor the better. Once a legal aid representation order application is granted the choice of representation belongs to the judge rather than the defendant/client, and the further on into the case you get the harder it is to justify a change in the representation. If at all possible we’d recommend instructing us before your first appearance at court, or even at the police station.