CBA Monday Message – 01.12.14
CBA Monday Message:
Tony Cross QC
Monday 1 December 2014
E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693
A real threat to the existence of the independent Bar
Last week the government issued its response to the Dual Provider consultation. Each of you who read this message will have seen our response. We and others have repeatedly warned government that the CBA believes that the implementation of this scheme will cause serious and irreversible damage to the Criminal Justice System. Our response to the consultation HERE was measured. Government has not listened. In the next few days I shall be consulting with members of the Executive, Chambers representatives, the Leaders of the Circuit and the Chairman of the Bar and on Friday of this week Mark and I will be meeting with the LCCSA and the CLSA.
Over the course of the past three weeks I have, together with Mark Fenhalls and Aaron Dolan visited every circuit outside the SE. We met with Barristers and their clerks the length and breadth of the land. We were welcomed wherever we went by Leaders, Heads of Chambers, CBA representatives, Clerks and Administrators who helped us better understand the difficulties faced nation-wide by Counsel. Wherever we went we were reassured and grateful for the support we received for the manifesto that I have clearly set out in this Message and elsewhere.
We learned of the huge number of problems faced by Counsel practicing in crime in order just to get by and by the time we were finished my resolve had hardened to do whatever I can to fight for the self-employed Bar. We also learned of the support across our profession that exists for Solicitors, many of whom are now engaged in a battle to save their practices.
Our profession and our staff are committed to providing a service that has been undervalued by government after government. Yet everywhere we went we saw men and women of real talent doing their very best to see justice done-prosecuting and defending in the teeth of adversity. All they require is a fair day’s pay (paid promptly and in full) and the opportunity to develop their career and progress. They want to operate on a level playing field with their competitors. Is that really too much to ask of a profession which has served this country for over 5 centuries? One thing though is certain about those members that we saw, they now have a passion and commitment to fight their corner. By the time you read this I am certain that CBA membership will be at an all time high; our organisation is better than ever before and we are able to respond quickly and effectively to any threat to our existence.
We are now in week 3 of collecting information about the workings of the fee system. I want to re-emphasise the CBA’s position. I have asked for hard evidence of instances where injustices have occurred in the payment of fees. The accounts given to us from some quarters seem to indicate that the returning of forms to Chambers as a result of minor errors in filling out the form or failing to provide information which could easily be checked by the LAA was ‘endemic.’ On the other hand the LAA believe that there is no justification for such a claim. Hence the email address and need for evidence. This is your opportunity to come forward with examples of these failings. I have no doubt that if there are justifiable cases supported by evidence that I will be able to provide a real solution to these issues. I ask each of you to liaise with your fee clerks and report back as soon as possible and in any event by 5.00pm on Friday the 5th December. The evidence that we require is as follows:
LAA Case Number (if available):
Date Case Concluded:
Date Bill Submitted:
Date Payment received:
Reason given for deduction/refusal:
Further details are available HERE.
You report to me that victim, witnesses and defendants are suffering increasing distress as their cases are not reached for a wide variety of reasons. This is a scandal. Cases are taken out of lists at the last minute and justice delayed. Meanwhile courts sit idle. Barristers make commitments to cases, which are then frustrated for no good reason. I appeal to you to send us your examples of how badly the system is broken. I shall pass on the results to the Lord Chancellor, the Victim’s Commissioner and to the Lord Chief Justice.