CBA Monday Message – 09.10.17
Angela Rafferty QC
Lord Chancellors old and new have been talking about legal aid this week. Civil legal aid. From the party conferences The Solicitor General has been reported as considering that it is time for a rethink to increase state funding in some civil cases. David Lidington emphasised that there is no ‘crock of gold’ for legal aid…. In a newspaper Lord Falconer reviewed the effect of repeated civil legal aid cutbacks and concluded, correctly, that “letting the legal system go to seed will have a profound long-term effect on the culture of the country”. The Bar Chair Andrew Langdon observed that waiting for a review of LASPO resembled waiting for Godot.
The case for reinvestment in Criminal Legal Aid is just as powerful and critically important. We too are all waiting impatiently for the consultation response to the reform of AGFS. We do not have a Bach report of our own. Maybe we should get one.
I urge you all to read this article about the Junior Bar’s continuing struggle to get paid in the magistrate’s court. A survey indicates that 50 per cent work for free, More on this next week. Doing nothing about this is not an option.
s.28 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Rollout
This is coming. As a reminder the evaluation published in September last year is here.
The rollout is expected to take place in 4 phases, with the first phase expected before the end of this year. We will publicise the area when we know officially. The original 3 pilot courts (Kingston, Leeds and Liverpool), at the same time, will be extending the provision of s.28 to complainants in modern slavery and sexual cases sent by the Magistrates’ Court from September 2017.
We have set out the very short standard timetable for these cases:
(i) PTPH: 14 days after sending;
(ii) Service of papers: 21 days after PTPH;
(iii) Defence Statement: 28 days after service of papers;
(iv) Ground Rules Hearing: 7 days after service of Defence Statement;
(v) s.28: 7 days after GRH or as soon as possible thereafter.
We will be asking for our members’ views as to how the implementation is progressing.
All practitioners will need to be prepared for this roll-out, and will be expected to be familiar with the Advocate’s Gateway toolkits. Although completion of the ICCA’s Vulnerable Witness training is not yet compulsory, it will be a distinct advantage to those conducting s.28 cases. Forthcoming dates for training will be announced shortly.
The Law Commission Sentencing Code
Sentencing law is contained within 48 statutes and over 1,300 pages of primary legislation. We all know how complex and difficult it can be. The Law commission is holding a series of events about a proposed new sentencing code to bring coherence and structure to this area of law. See this link for details. Once again this affects our daily professional lives. We should ensure we are at the forefront of this discussion.
The Kalisher Trust Lecture – Tuesday 10th October, Old Bailey 17.30
Sir Brian Leveson will speak on “Advocacy”. Places are limited so please book with Aaron. This is a chance to hear a significant and senior legal figure talk about something we do every day. There will also be wine afterwards and the Trust will present prizes.
The CBA November Lecture
On Tuesday 14th November, the Lecture at the Old Bailey will be given by Dr. Shona Minson from Oxford University. Shona is working on a research project in conjunction with other academics and the Prison Reform Trust about the impact of maternal imprisonment.
The most up to date information we have about the training required for prosecutors to remain on the list for serious sexual offence cases is that from January 2019 prosecutors on the serious sexual offence panel will be required to have completed 2 courses. These are the Advocacy and the Vulnerable course and a RASSO accredited course.
For those of you who are Recorders the Judicial Serious Sexual Offence training course to be held this year meets the requirement for RASSO training. We are still finding out if previous judicial courses will also qualify. We are grateful to members who have highlighted this issue to us.
Archbold and Blackstones.
We will publish the results of our survey in next week’s Monday message. If we get a good enough ‘turn out’ it will provide a snapshot of how working barristers view this issue. So far about 500 members have responded. It would be good if we could get a few more.
We emphasise that we are not taking part in any of the political imbroglios there seem to be around this topic. Many of us, including me, write or contribute to one or other of the texts. The CBA is purely concerned with the interests of our membership and that we should be consulted when something like this is under review.
Your Vice Chair Chris Henley QC will be writing next week’s message so you can have a break from me. He will address his manifesto issues and raise conduct and listing practices in the Crown Court, the scandal of juniors not being paid and the Junior Bar generally, problems with disclosure and payment for large amounts of electronic material as well as other bad practices and causes for concern. Can you email in anything you want to say on these issues.