CBA Monday Message 17.12.18
Chris Henley QC
ENDING THE YEAR:
So this is the final MM of the year. It has been a year of unprecedented activity and real progress on many fronts. We will build on this next year.
- Flexible Operating Hours in the criminal courts are dead.
- We acted together and secured new investment in AGFS for the first time.
- A protocol to ensure payment for all Magistrates Court work is drafted.
- Increasing prosecution fees is now a top priority; the campaign is under way.
- More wellbeing events took place this year then ever before.
- A working conditions protocol will be launched in the New Year.
- Judicial bullying, and thoughtless listing behaviour is being called out.
- Press coverage is increasingly prominent and favourable (the World Tonight R4 at 10.00pm explores the state of the Justice System and the impact of legal aid cuts every night this week with many of you contributing. Spread the word).
BUT NEXT YEAR:
We have decisions to make……
- The new LAA guidance on Special Preparation claims is disastrous for serious cases; there is likely to be a refusal to take this work. We are lobbying hard to change it.
- Prosecution Fees are at completely unacceptable levels. Prosecution fees set in 2006 were cut in 2012 and have not been increased for almost 20 years.
- We need to reset the relationship between the CPS and counsel. Too often unreasonable demands are made; these demands are immediate, unpaid, lack respect, and for work that should be undertaken by the CPS themselves not counsel. That culture needs to change.
- We need clear lines on working practices: a break at lunchtime, sitting hours that give parents a chance to be parents, no overnight e-mails, and buildings/facilities that do not make us cringe.
Maybe this week, stop at lunchtime, switch-off your work e-mails at 6.00pm and if a Judge behaves badly, pause, smile and perhaps observe that there might be a different way of saying that which might be more effective………….they probably feel exhausted and undervalued too.
I have been asked to mention two other things this week. First sad news that Ruth Marchant has died. Ruth, an RI, was a pioneer in relation to improving the way the Criminal Justice System deals with young and vulnerable children, believing them to be ‘competent communicators’. Ruth was a founding member of Triangle in Brighton, which works with children with disabilities, and who have suffered traumatic experiences, making sure their voices are heard. The way the CJS treats children has been transformed over recent years. Ruth Marchant’s contribution to this was invaluable.
And (I’ve saved the best til last) Kingston Crown Court has a new coffee bar. Amazing!