Singh, Birmingham barrister highest paid in UK
London, June 26, 2007
NRI, Balbir Singh, a lawyer from Birmingham has become the most
highly paid legal aid barrister in UK. He received 1,116,000 pounds
in 2005/06 in criminal legal aid fees in 2006. The Ministry of
Justice also disclosed figures for the first time on legal aid
paid to firms of solicitors.
He is technically known as a junior because he is not among the
elite 10 per cent of barristers with Queen’s Counsel status.
He is head of Equity Chambers, based in Birmingham, having been
called to the Bar just over 22 years ago at the age of 26.
He was involved in a trial at Leeds Crown Court. He is fluent
in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. It was the second year in a row that
the biggest payout to a legal aid barrister has hit seven figures.
In last year's list, Mr Singh came in fifth with earnings of
£750,000 - meaning that in two years he has pocketed almost
£1.9 million of taxpayers' money, mainly to defend criminal
The figures will be highly embarrassing for Lord Falconer, the
Lord Chancellor, who has repeatedly promised to stop the £1
million-a-year legal aid barristers.
Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, said: "This is an
absolute disgrace. Law centres and advice services are being squeezed
at the bottom end to pay for multi-million-pound, bewigged fat
cats at the other."
Lord Carter said, "Criminal legal aid costs could be cut
by 20 per cent over four years, freeing up more than £100
million a year to be redirected to the under-funded areas of civil
and family law."
He added: “We would like to see the end of the one million-a-year
criminal defence barrister.”
The legal aid totals paid out to barristers and solicitors’
firms were £1.2 billion for criminal cases and £620
million for civil cases.