Lawyers who take "futile" cases to the Court of Appeal have been warned they won't be getting paid by Joe Public any more.
The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, has warned lawyers that Legal Aid claims for abandoned cases would generally be refused in the future.
He made the ruling in a hearing relating to the case of a Magherafelt chef who was jailed for life almost two years ago for stabbing to death his former school friend Francis Loane.
Heaney had engaged lawyers to apply for leave to appeal - an application that was "entirely without substance or foundation" - but had later abandoned the move.
His lawyers, however, continued with their application for Legal Aid to cover the cost of the work they had undertaken on his behalf.
The Lord Chief Justice told them: "This court... has a duty to ensure that those cases that are without merit are not publicly funded.
"One, of course, has sympathy with counsel and solicitors who expend considerable efforts in the preparation of cases for which, ultimately, no payment will be made, but it would be quite wrong to certify for legal aid in cases where the appeal is futile."
Sir Brian added: "We wish to make it clear, therefore, that the grant of legal aid in unsuccessful applications for leave to appeal against conviction can no longer be regarded as automatic.
"Where such an application is abandoned, as a general rule, legal aid will not be certified unless it can be demonstrated that there are exceptional circumstances justifying this course.
"Since we have not previously had the opportunity to make this clear, we will, not without considerable hasitation, certify for legal aid in this case but we hope that today's guidance will be considered carefully by proctitioners in this court for the future."
[This ruling is very interesting in the context of the content of this website. It is yet another example of the High Court's favourable treatment of its Officers (barristers and solicitors) even when those Officers, who are highly educated people in their profession, use a matter "entirely without substance or foundation" in order to rake in a massive amount of easy public money. My mentally-handicapped brother Freddie was not capable of such devious planning and manipulation or of doing anything wrong, yet he has been crushed by the same High Court which allowed barristers, solicitors and others to rake in a massive amount of money and property belonging to Freddie, thus depriving him of the gift of love bestowed upon him by his father. It is a case of win-win for Officers of the Court and lose-lose for anyone unfortunate enough to have to need the 'professional assistance' of such devious people.]