Never has a trial cost the State as much as that of the attacks of November 13, 2015, and it is neither the construction of a new room, nor the expenses of the civil parties who came to the hearing, nor the exceptional security measures which constitute the main item of expenditure. These are attorney’s fees.
Since 2002, during terrorist trials, the State has paid for the lawyers’ fees of the accused as well as civil parties – survivors and relatives of victims – without conditions of resources. Lawyers are paid according to the number of hearing days and clients they represent: this is called legal aid (AJ). At the November 13 trial, the duration of the hearing – 149 days – and the number of civil parties – more than 2,500 – caused the state to soar, offering some law firms income from considerable money.
“The projection of legal aid expenditure for the full trial is around 50 million euros”, indicates to World the ministry of justice. This sum is divided into some 47.5 million for the 327 lawyers for the civil parties, and 2.5 million for the 28 French lawyers for the accused – the Belgian lawyers are not concerned. In mid-May, “41 million euros” had already been paid by the State to the lawyers, according to the Chancellery.
During the trial, a lawyer representing a civil party receives a basic flat rate of 1,292 euros, then 272 euros per day of hearing (288 euros since 1er January). When this day, which begins at 12:30 p.m., lasts beyond 5:30 p.m., each additional five hours brings in another 272 (or 288) euros. Thus, for a day of seven hours and then another of eight hours, a lawyer will receive not two, but three times 272 (or 288) euros. An electronic badge system attests to the time spent in court. For 149 days, plus 30 increments of five additional hours – a reasonable estimate – a lawyer defending a single civil party, and having attended all of the proceedings, will have received approximately 50,000 euros in ten months.
A degressive system applies when defending several civil parties: for the second, a lawyer receives 70% of the AJ, then 60% for the third, 50%, for the fourth, 40% for the fifth and all the following. Thus, a lawyer representing two civil parties and who would have attended the entire hearing will receive 85,000 euros. For five civil parties, compensation can reach 160,000 euros. For ten, 260,000 euros. For twenty, 460,000 euros. For forty, 860,000 euros – this is the case for at least twelve firms.
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