Former MP Ken Hind has sets up virtual barristers chambers on the internet to provide advice and court representation in criminal defence cases

Ken Hind has set up a new virtual barrister’s chambers on the internet which he has called Newton Chambers to practice criminal Law across Lancashire and the North of England.

As he describes it ‘Newton Chambers is the apple that fell from the tree of the network of criminal barristers chambers up and down the country. For those of us that deal with criminal cases on legal aid in the Crown Courts the expense of expensive chambers can no longer be justified in this technological age.

‘In the last 3 years we have seen legal aid criminal fees cut by 4.5% per year and now the government want to cut a further 17.5% from fees in general crime. It is proposed to cut 30 % and from the very complicated cases, VHCC or very high cost cases as they are known. Not for lawyers a pay freeze or low annual increases in our incomes, we have seen our remuneration, slashed so barristers have to adapt to change. If we do not respond as a profession, barristers practising in crime will face death by a thousand cuts as costs rise and fees fall.

‘The new concept is the result of the need to rethink reorganise and reconfigure. No thick piled carpets and chandeliers, Newton chambers will exist to provide high quality criminal and motoring advice and advocacy services to legally aided and paying clients through their solicitors. Michael Mansfield QC has closed his Took Chambers in London and set up on the internet showing the way to others. As far as I know I am the first barrister practising in crime in the north to follow his example, I will not be the last ’

‘If government does not change its mind on the cuts to legal aid and  barristers fail to adapt,  the  public will lose a strong group of independent barristers, not afraid to stand up in the courts to represent the small man and woman in the street. The champions of trial by jury will be sadly reduced.

‘Government policy since 1997  eroded  the existence of such an independent  profession which for 300 years has been the cornerstone of the legal system capable of bringing government, police, banks  big business and large organisations of all kinds to account in the courts. Today very few young barristers are starting criminal practices due to changes in the rights of audience in the Crown Courts. We need to  heed the warnings from the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council that the criminal bar, as we know it, will become a thing of the past. Future governments will have to look elsewhere for the judges of tomorrow, as many have been selected in the past from barristers practising in crime.’

Newton Chambers is founded and run by Kenneth Hind CBE LLB Barrister at Law called to the bar in 1973 , VHCC approved including fraud panel , included in  2012 Chambers top 500, as a member of Oriel Chambers, Liverpool. Ken Hind  specialises  in serious and organised crime. He has appeared in murder fraud robbery  drug and sex cases, conducted trials in 26 Crown Courts throughout the country, from Plymouth to Carlisle including the Old Bailey, – ‘have wig will travel.’

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