Wow, what a start to the New Year. After the traditional Christmas lull we have been rushed off our feet with quotes. Of course we have to wait and see what the LSC funding process brings before we know that all of our consultants will be at 100% but without quoting we have not even cleared the first hurdle.
However, mention of the LSC brings me on to my first gripe of the year. We are finding that when our quotations are submitted we are not always being compared like for like. Some time ago the Government withdrew the Register of Forensic Practitioners (upon which some of our consultants were listed.) Whilst it is easy to understand the savings made by the withdrawal of this list the implications run deeper.
Our quotations are often being compared to “experts” who have neither the knowledge or background to represent themselves as such. In order for these practitioners to attract work they will undercut on fees. To my mind the savings made at this stage by LSC actually amount to a net loss. Without the correct skills to investigate their cases properly or to then represent that in court, LSC might just have well not agreed any funding. Of course the concern here is that defendants are not getting the service they are entitled to.
With the advent of the latest amendment to the costs in criminal cases legislation the fee scales are clear, but that is just one side of the story. It is for the professional bodies of which our consultants are members to represent them correctly. It seems to me a failing of their responsibilities to their membership, for these bodies not to be taking every opportunity to market their membership potential sources of instruction. I have frequently taken time to explain what membership of these bodies means to our customers, most of whom had no idea of the value of the letters after our chap’s names.
So I finish up on two calls to arms. If you are looking for expert witnesses please make sure the witness is as qualified in their field as you might expect (that normally excludes two week distance learning courses) and if you represent expert witnesses or are one please make sure you let your clients know the extent to which you or your members are qualified.