CBA Monday Message 10.06.19

‘I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers’?

Together we can make a substantial positive difference to the Criminal Justice System. It might seem a bit contrary that immediately following a ballot calling decisively for action we are feeling much more positive about things. But we are.

The profession is impatient for improvements. But strong and united. The ballot result has given you hope; many of you have messaged in to say so. You won’t know this, but much hard work and lobbying has been going on. Discussions have continued throughout this weekend, as they did the previous weekend. We all want a solution. Of course we might not get there, but we are increasingly confident that we will, without compromising your priorities.

We have had things to say in MMs over recent months that must have made for uncomfortable reading for those towards whom they were directed. They needed to be said. But if we are able to reset the Bar’s relations with the CPS and the MOJ we will commit wholeheartedly to rebuilding relationships. However angry we might be we need to try to see things from each other’s perspectives. Both the MOJ and CPS have suffered huge cuts to their budgets. Our primary relationships are with them – they have borne the brunt of our frustration – but their room for manoeuvre has been heavily circumscribed; they need to be given greater flexibility if we are to resolve things.

Our sense is that the narrative is changing, that the crisis in retention, the value of the publicly funded Bar and the importance of quality and sustainability of the profession are all much better understood. Detailed work has been going on for some time within the reviews being led by the CPS and MoJ, which would potentially allow key changes to be implemented much more rapidly than previously timetabled. We expect to have detailed proposals to share with you imminently.

You will of course make the final decision on any offer. The ballot result made crystal clear the strength of feeling and the consequences of a failure to resolve this. It is essential that your voices continue to be heard.

Yours,

Chris Henley QC and Caroline Goodwin QC

Chair and Vice-Chair

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