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CBA Chairman’s Message – Addendum to the Monday Message

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Addendum to the Monday Message
Re: QASA Judgement 

Monday 20 January 2014


Personal Email: [email protected]

We are extremely disappointed by this morning’s judgment, which is one that will affect not just the criminal bar but the whole profession. Despite today’s judgment, we still believe that the QASA scheme places at risk the independence of the advocate, which is an important constitutional safeguard in our legal system and essential to the proper administration of justice.
The Claimants will now consider whether there are grounds to appeal the Judgment.  That is, of course, a matter for them. We will support them in whatever decision they reach.
The Divisional Court observed the crisis that the Criminal Bar faces :
“We recognise that those who fulfil the vital public service of criminal advocacy feel under very considerable pressure at the present time. First, the professions are facing real concerns regarding criminal legal aid based upon the levels of remuneration that the Ministry of Justice is proposing across the board and, in particular, in relation to the most challenging cases.
Secondly, the Lord Chancellor has appointed Sir Bill Jeffery to conduct a review into the provision of independent criminal advocacy. This review is due to report in March 2014 and is intended to cover the experience, capabilities and skills needed for such services; arrangements for training, having regard to the recommendations of the Legal Education and Training Review; the standards needed to maintain and improve the quality of advocacy; and the future structure of the profession providing advocacy services. To no small extent, these terms of reference impact directly on the issues which have been the subject of these proceedings and, for our part, we see enormous force in the suggestion that both the development of QASA and the review should be informed by the other. That, of course, is a matter for the LSB and the regulators on the one hand and Sir Bill on the other.”

This does not change the resolve of the criminal Bar to neither sign up to this flawed scheme nor work at reduced rates.
The whole profession should be grateful for the work that has been done on this case by Baker & McKenzie and counsel for the Claimants in the case who, as the Court acknowledged at the end of the Judgment, acted “in the best traditions of the legal profession”. Long may such traditions continue.
Nigel Lithman QC

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