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Monday Message 21.10.13 - The Criminal Bar Association

Monday Message 21.10.13

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Nigel Lithman QC


Monday Message 21st October 2013
 


 

Personal Email: nlqc@aol.com

“NOT A PENNY MORE” 
 
NOUNS and VERBS
 
Was there a finer subject at school than English Literature? Was there ever a less comprehensible subject than English Language? Apparently the same word spelled the same way can be a verb and a noun. Who’d have thought it? One such word is “delegate.”
 
“DELEGATE” THE NOUN
 
Key this week has been the enormous work undertaken by Alexandra Healey QC, Gilly Jones & their team in drafting and submitting the final responses on behalf of the Bar Council and the CBA to the specific proposals for VHCC cuts. As our delegates we owe them a huge debt.
 
We also saw the excellent response from Maura McGowan QC in exposing the misleading VHCC earnings figures provided by the MOJ before the Legal Aid Select Committee HERE.
 
“DELEGATE” THE VERB
 
We are an amateur body; in fact with the Circuit Leaders and the Bar Council, we are seven amateur bodies trying to stop the steamroller state that seems bent on our destruction. At the moment it all comes down to  “Cuts and Qasa, Qasa and Cuts”. If we can get rid of these carbuncles, we can all get back to the work we want to be doing and I can ask our treasurer if he will pay for a month’s convalescence in the Maldives.
 
I’m blessed with a large executive from which is drawn our action group and am learning to delegate some of the workload. Ultimately, however, the people to whom we are delegating are you. You’ve made your collective views known through the Heads of Chambers responses. But now each of you has to show your resolve.
 
I promised a step-by-step, reasonable and proportionate approach. I know there are many who would like us to take direct action immediately, but taking all views into account, this is the first part of an agreed and on-going Executive strategy.
 
Here is where we are:
 

STEPS 1 & 2:
 
EXISTING VHCC CONTRACTS: There are various legal complexities that must be considered and we are still awaiting the final, comprehensive advice. Suffice it to say that discussions at a round table conference on Tuesday were positive. We are fully expecting that the proposed cuts to existing contracts can be challenged and that counsel will be within their rights not to work at the reduced rates.
 
FUTURE VHCC CONTRACTS: Non-acceptance of new contracts at reduced rates.
 
 
STEP 3: “NOT A PENNY MORE” RALLY
 
ON SATURDAY 16TH NOVEMBER 2013, WE HAVE ARRANGED ‘THE CBA NATIONAL DELGATES CONFERENCE’ AT LINCOLN’S INN.  THERE WE WILL DEMONSTRATE OUR SOLIDARITY AND RESOLVE TO FIGHT THE PROPOSED FEE CUTS AND GOVERNMENT’S ATTACK ON JUSTICE
 
THIS EVENT IS BEING HELD ON A SATURDAY. BY DOING SO, WE SHOW THAT AT THIS STAGE WE DO NOT WANT TO DISRUPT THE COURTS MORE THAN WE NEED. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT WE SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE
 
Further details to follow but put the date in your diary now. WE WILL ENSURE NO VOICE IS LEFT UNHEARD. Lincoln’s Inn has given us the Hall free of charge. We thank them.
 
Tony Cross is leading the team. He can be contacted on 07860 692693
 
Further details are available HERE
 
 
STEP 3½:
 
FUND RAISING
 
The steps that our regulators and our Lord Chancellor are trying to enforce upon us are not only sapping our morale, but also depleting our coffers.
Unfortunately to fund our response we are having to fund raise amongst you, via the Heads of Chambers. The detail will be contained in the letter that goes out to them
Is there no shame in putting us in this position?
Remember?
“The criminal barrister, the barrister that just keeps on giving. “
 

THIS WEEK:
 
Tuesday 15th October:
* Round table conference re advice on VHCC contracts, all looks good.
 
* C.B.A. Executive Meeting
May I take up one point from the meeting and give it important expression. Our fight on VHCC’s is not taken in isolation. It is under the umbrella of NOT A PENNY MORE.  If VHCC’s are not cut, but AGF’s are - THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO THE C.B.A.
 
Thursday 17th October:
Frances Gibb gave us a full page of exposure in The Times, allowing me to put across the views and concerns of the Criminal Bar. She is an excellent conduit. Sadly her photographer chose to attach a picture of an unknown short squat man. You can read the article HERE.
 
Friday 18th October:
Called to the Headmaster’s study, trying to work out which of my foul ups in court would have come to his attention. Meeting The Lord Chief, to whom on your behalf I offered our congratulations, was of course a breath of fresh air; as with all headmasters, he was thoroughly informed as to what was going on.
 
QASA was not for discussion as the hearing was within the building, but we have opened the door for a continuing dialogue.
 
I hope the Lord Chief will not mind my revealing that in answer to a number of pertinent questions, I had to reply that the Criminal Bar feels like a patient who has been given dire news about his health and finds himself incapable of concentrating on anything else.
 
I propose to keep him informed of the steps that we take, before we take them. I have said we will act with the decorum expected of us. That said, he knows of our resolve not to work at any reduced rates.
 
Friday evening:
Thanks to the Midland Asian Lawyers Association for honouring the CBA with a seat at their top table and for all of the expressions of support received when up there. Imran Khan (solicitor not cricketer) spoke of how Legal Aid cuts will prevent those from underprivileged backgrounds coming into the profession.
Maintaining open access to all is vital to the future of the legal profession. Imran Khan (cricketer not solicitor) would agree.
 
 
IN THE PRESS:        
 
The Law Society Gazette - Lawyers in France Strike
 
ITV News - Serco and G4S allowed to bid for probation contracts
 
The Sunday Times – Whitehall; threatens SERCO
 
The Sunday Times – Serco on the Brink
 
The Independent - Lord Neuberger criticised the government's stance on legal aid in a lecture, leading to Grayling being asked in a Justice Committee hearing, "Have you no regard for experts in the field?"
 
The Guardian - Further coverage of the speech given by Lord Neuberger
 
Legal Futures -  Grayling indicates shake up of regulatory regime, stating "(we) intend to do quite a lot on deregulation"
 
Legal Futures - Coverage of Circuit's unity re: QASA and their move to indemnify the counsel bringing judicial review over QASA
 
Also in the news...
 
CBA Committee Member, Richard Brentwood's open letter to The Times: "Legal cuts? So much is already done for free"
 
Michael Mansfield QC calls for profession to strike
 
"Criminal firms will collapse, not consolidate, if legal aid cuts are too fast, government warned"
 
 
ON TWITTER:
 
@TheCriminalBar: Debunking @MoJGovUK "Mediation Myth" #WereAllInThisTogetherhttp://t.co/s1cJJoj6kj
 
@TheCriminalBar: .@MoJGovUK If a member of @TheCriminalBar sought to mislead a court like this, he/she would be disbarred. http://t.co/rPVhsp4PCU
 
@TheCriminalBar: .@westcrct It's what we do, work hard, at all hours to do the right thing.... And fear no one! @MoJGovUK
 
@TheCriminalBar: THIS is how new ABS's will react if they can't make a profit from #legalaid #cutandrun @MoJGovUK  http://t.co/thjkbjFTHL
 
@TheCriminalBar: .@MoJGovUK "The longest journey begins with a single step" Lao-tzu.
#VHCC is just the beginning. You underestimate us at your peril
 
@TheCriminalBar: .@mojgovuk It's not even as though Lord Neuberger is a qualified politician. How dare he presume to pontificate on MoJ issues?
 
 
CONCLUSION:
 
This is your fight. I will lead it, but you cannot delegate it. Meanwhile “I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares do more is none” (Macbeth). Isn’t English Literature marvelous?
 
Nigel Lithman QC




 

Date added: Monday 21st October 2013
Latest updated: Monday 20th November 2017

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