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Supreme Court of Denmark

Defence counsel removed and not awarded fees 

Case no. 199/2015 and case no. 200/2015

Order made on 6 April 2016

The Public Prosecutor


The Public Prosecutor

Defence counsel had to be removed to provide the defendant with a proper defence, and defence counsel not entitled to fee for the work performed

In a criminal case, the High Court ordered that a court-appointed defence counsel, lawyer A, be removed and that the case be retried with new judges and lay judges and a new defence counsel. The lay judges agreed that it would be irresponsible to make a decision in the case on the present basis. The High Court gave importance to the fact that due to the defence counsel's conduct in the case, including his examination and argument, the defendant did not have a relevant and sufficient defence. In this connection, the High Court emphasized a number of issues, including that the defence counsel's examination of the witness, who according to the charge had been assaulted etc., was inadequate, that the defence counsel's argument did not consider the relevant facts at issue in the case, and that the defence counsel's comments on the sentencing could almost be interpreted as a request to pass the most severe sentence possible to underscore the defence counsel's views on evidence that the High Court had previously dismissed.

The High Court did not award fees for lawyer A for his work on the defence on the grounds that his work in the case was so deficient that his appointment had been withdrawn.

The Supreme Court agreed that the defence was so flawed that it was necessary to remove the defence counsel to give the defendant an effective defence, and thus a fair trial. It was not relevant that the defendant had not requested that his counsel be removed. The Supreme Court also agreed that lawyer A was not entitled to a fee for the work performed before being removed.

The Supreme Court thus affirmed the orders of the High Court.

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