Belfast Telegraph

Barristers in High Court bid to prevent being named among Northern Ireland's top 100 legal aid earners

By Alan Erwin

Two barristers have cleared the first stage in a High Court bid to prevent being named among Northern Ireland's top 100 legal aid earners.

The lawyers are challenging plans to include their details in a list set to be published, claiming it breaches their privacy and could put them at risk.

They were granted leave to seek a judicial review after the Legal Services Agency (LSA) conceded an arguable case has been established.

Proceedings will now advance to a full hearing later this year.

Neither lawyer is being identified due to the anonymity issues in the case.

They commenced legal action after being notified of intentions to include their names in the latest list of 100 barristers receiving the most legal aid fees.

Counsel for the pair argue that the planned publication contravenes the Data Protection Act.

Further grounds of challenge include assertions that the move breaches their right to privacy under European law.

Disclosing their details is irrational and serves no purpose, it is contended.

The case also features claims that naming them could potentially create a threat to their security.

In court today Paul McLaughlin, representing the LSA, confirmed: "There's no contest on the issue of leave (to seek a judicial review)."

However, he stressed that a possible alternative remedy of going to the Information Commissioner could still feature in the case.

With the preliminary stage cleared, Mrs Justice Keegan listed a further review in September.

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