BBC Radio 4's Law in Action was broadcast on Friday, 28 May, 2004 at 1600 BST.
From April 1st this year barristers acting for legally-aided defendants in Very High Cost Criminal Cases (trials lasting more than five weeks, or costing more than £150,000 per defence team) have been asked to sign new contracts, which they say represents a pay cut of up 50 per cent. They are furious about it - and they are refusing to sign the contracts, leaving some defendants unable to find to find a barrister to represent them.
Is this simply a question of money, and if so, does the Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer) have any money to throw at it? If he doesn't, what are the consequences for the criminal justice system?
There's a revolution taking place in the way that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are working together to charge and prosecute offenders. Clive speaks exclusively to the Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC about what it all means.
Sharia law in Britain
Alongside Britain's secular courts, there's also a network of sharia councils dealing with issues of Islamic law. Innes Bowen finds out how these councils work within domestic law and looks at why practising Muslims in the UK feel, when it comes to the issue of divorce, they need their own legal system.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Elayne Oxley had been awarded a £100,000 share of her former partner's home, even though the couple were not married and she made no financial contribution to the mortgage. The press heralded it as a landmark case - but was it? We take a closer look.