CBA Monday Message 12.06.18

Chair’s Update:
Angela Rafferty QC

The Criminal Bar has very narrowly voted to accept the AGFS proposal made by the government.  3038 barristers voted, a massive turn out. 1566 (51.55%) voted to accept and 1472 (48.45%) voted to reject. Whilst the majority wishes to accept the proposal it cannot be said that the anger and disillusionment has gone away. Indeed, it is exceptionally strong. The Criminal Bar is not going to be quiet.

As we said last week investment in the AGFS scheme is the first step in a long road to rehabilitation for the Criminal Justice System. The damage done in recent decades will not be undone in weeks, or perhaps years. This proposal is the beginning and not the end of our campaign to improve the broken system we all work in every day. We still face exceptional difficulties, as do our solicitor colleagues. This will not fix the terrible conditions, the unhealthy and unreasonably onerous working practices and the general decrepitude. However, if we consider it a start we can build on it.

The fact we have achieved this small gain shows that we as a profession are both capable and motivated to unite and unite we will if things do not continue to change in the near future.

Today we also announce the launch of the official campaign to improve the lot of prosecutors. For too long prosecutors have tolerated the intolerable too. We must work towards changing this as well as the continued investment in AGFS in the future. Without the commitment and skill of those who prosecute the system would collapse quickly. Disclosure is still a huge issue. We make a commitment to you now to mirror our efforts on AGFS towards prosecution work.

This outcome is neither a defeat nor a victory.  The Criminal Bar has faced degradation and despair and it still does. This is a step forward. We must all ensure we do not take any more steps back.

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