Lost in translation? Perceptions of defendant intermediaries in the legal profession

Samantha Fairclough , John Taggart, Paula Backen

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This article marks a consideration of—and response to—some perceptions in circulation among the legal professions around the need for, and utility of, defendant intermediaries in criminal trials. It first outlines the provision of defendant intermediaries in law and practice, before drawing on interview data from 25 criminal barristers and 20 intermediaries that discuss the perceptions of defendant intermediaries and their work. We critically interrogate the negative perceptions that commonly arose, including that: defendant intermediaries are unduly expensive; they always recommend their own involvement; they are not needed because the legal profession has sufficiently upskilled; and that, if defendant intermediaries are appointed, they do not consistently add value. We recommend that: (1) intermediaries and the legal profession are brought together in a training environment to iron-out some of these misperceptions and form a strong and respectful working relationship; and (2) the separate intermediary schemes for witnesses and defendants are finally amalgamated leaving one central provision of support to all vulnerable individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-461
Number of pages17
JournalCriminal Law Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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