Anger over “truly appalling” solicitor advocates

Legal News | 3 November 2008

Solicitors have reacted angrily after Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, claimed that many solicitor advocates in Crown Court trials were “truly appalling”.

Lodder said solicitors who had never conducted a crown court trial and had very limited experience in the magistrates’ courts were appearing as junior defence advocates in murder trials.

Steve Wedd, treasurer of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said Lodder should “get on with the work.”

He went on: “Insulting people is not a useful occupation for anyone.

“I have never insulted the Bar or commented on their lack of willingness to do police station work.”

Wedd said it was now “absolutely routine” for solicitors to appear in the Crown Court.

However he said he and his partner did not conduct jury trials, preferring to instruct barristers or solicitors advocates.

“A poor advocate does not get a second brief, and the good ones are in very high demand.

“I am sorry to hear what he says. I suspect he’s grumpy because we’re parking our tanks on his lawn.”

Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said that if Lodder wanted a serious debate on the issue he should provide specific examples.

“We have not been shown any examples of misconduct, and therefore these accusations are entirely unsubstantiated.”

The SRA announced its decision in September to continue with compulsory training and accreditation for higher court solicitor advocates.

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