The applicant, a convicted prisoner sought a declaration that the respondent’s decision to make no provision for exceptional circumstances in the payment of fees under the 2011 Amendment Rules is unlawful and a declaration that the said Rules operate to constitute a breach of the applicant’s right to a fair trial pursuant to Art 6 of the ECHR. He was awaiting sentence, on a matter which might leave him subject to an indeterminate life sentence, but had no legal representation. The judge at trial had decided that he needed representation at a senior level. The LSC had cofirmed that having switched legal representation, fees would be available only on a fixed fee basis.
Held: The Rules were unlawful: ‘in order to avoid illegality there must be a modest adjustment to the impugned scheme or some other provision to enable the necessary adjustment to meet the exceptional and unusual circumstances which have arisen and to avoid the injustice which will thereby inevitably result if this is not done.’ Treacy J made an order of mandamus requiring the respondent, the Department of Justice to take all necessary steps to make Mr Brownlee’s right to legal aid effective.
 NIQB 36
Crown Court Proceedings (Cost) (Amendment) Rules 2011, European Convention on Human Rights 6
Cited – P, Regina v Misc 18-Mar-2008
Crown Court at Harrow – The Court stayed the criminal proceedings because the defendant was unable to retain counsel because of what was said to be a failure to provide adequate legal aid fees in criminal confiscation proceedings. . .
Appeal from – Brownlee, Re Judicial Review CANI 23-Oct-2013
The applicant had successfully challenged the Legal Aid rules as they applied to his seeking representation on a sentencing issue in the Crown Court which had led to him being unable to find legal representation because of the inadequacy of the fee . .
At First Instance – In re Brownlee for Judicial Review SC 29-Jan-2014
The appellant challenged the course taken in his criminal trial after his legal team had withdrawn citing professional embarassment. No replacement team could be found willing to act in a complicated sentencing matter because of the reduced fixed . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Northern Ireland, Criminal Practice, Legal Aid, Human Rights, Legal Professions
Updated: 20 November 2021; Ref: scu.503527