Legal matters

Cost of public defence counsels on the rise

More and more public money goes towards lawyers fees, according to the news agency TT. Last year, the cost of hiring public defence counsels and counsels for victims amounted to 214 million US dollars, an increase of almost 7 % compared to the year before. In particular, it is the cost for the victim's counsels that has gone up, an increase of 16 % in just a year.

"That is far too much," says Göran Nilsson, senior judge at Stockholm county court.

Nilsson says that many defence lawyers spend too much time and effort to visit the various custodies and he questions whether it is right that lawyers in some cases act like welfare officer. "Assault cases are often a lot about conversation and less about law. Lawyers charge per hour and then it becomes expensive," he tells TT.

But also the judges could be more observant, and not accept the bill from the lawyers too easily.

But Anne Ramberg, general secretary of the Swedish Bar Association, does not agree. " A lawyer must visit his or her client in custody. If you do not do that, the case will not be properly prepared and that will end up even more expensive," she says, and does not at all agree that lawyers earn a lot of money. "The average lawyer does not earn much and few people are recruited into this kind of legal practice today," says Anne Ramberg.

Meanwhile, the National Courts Administration explains the rising costs with an increase in crime. Crime is up by 6% and crime against individuals, such as assault cases, is up by 14%. "that explains the rise in costs for victim's counsels," says Ann Härelind, head of economy at National Courts Administration.

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