CBA Monday Message 23.04.18
Angela Rafferty QC
The majority of this week’s message is a joint update from the CBA and the Leaders of the Circuits.
Not one of us wants this action. We all want the same things. We want to recruit juniors from all backgrounds. We want them to sustain a practice. We want to be fairly paid for the work we do. We do not want anyone who has talent, learning and commitment to leave because of the dire financial constraints of our work. We want the senior Bar and the judiciary of the future to be truly representative of society and for Justice to once again be placed at the centre of our democracy.
We don’t agree on everything. Many members worked hard to devise a payment scheme that righted some wrongs of the past and re distributed the available envelope of funding in a more equitable way. The old AGFS scheme was not fit for purpose, reform was essential. However it must be made completely clear that ‘cost neutrality’ was a constraint placed on us by government and was never accepted at any time. Investment was always the non – negotiable second stage of the process.
Since the process of AGFS reform has started it is clear that the Criminal Justice system faces an unprecedented financial assault. It also faces an existential crisis. From disclosure debacles to prison riots, the system is in crisis and has broken. Repair and restoration cannot wait. Our profession cannot wait whilst the onslaught of cuts continue. The Government must accept that a budget stripped more than any other, with continuous cuts, will result in completely unacceptable conditions for those who work in it and are affected by it.
That is why so many of you have decided that the time to act is now, for your own individual reasons. As we said last week this issue is far wider than any scheme relating to fees. The scheme, with sufficient investment, could work. This is an issue of principle and survival. It is now absolutely clear to us that this government does not intend to invest in criminal justice at all. In fact it intends to make more cuts. We will not see any change for the better if we don’t fight for it.
Therefore we have all decided to send this message to you jointly. We wish to present it in a united way. We are asking for an urgent meeting with government to discuss our proposals. We are working together to make our aims clear and to avoid escalation of the action if possible. We are discussing the aims and objectives of this action which will be based upon the architecture of the new scheme but which will address the concerns of our members and seek to redress the iniquities that have arisen from the lack of investment over the past ten years and more. We will strive to reflect the viewpoints of all our members.
We want to resolve this. All of us do. We ask for principled investment in our great system. The government must make a priority for justice at this critical time in our history. If it does not the consequences will resonate for years to come. If it does then at last we may see a halt to the crisis in the system.
Angela Rafferty Q.C
Chair of the CBA
Chris Henley Q.C
Vice Chair of the CBA
William Mousley Q.C
Leader of the Western Circuit
Kerim Fuad Q.C
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit
Paul Hopkins Q.C
Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit
Michael Hayton Q.C
Leader of the Northern Circuit
Nigel Sangster Q.C
Leader of the North Eastern Circuit
Michael Duck Q.C
Leader of the Midland Circuit
Our solicitor colleagues and HCAs have been incredible in supporting this action. The desperate situation affects them equally. This week the crisis in recruitment in our sister professionwas highlighted. We have also held our first meeting and had some free and frank exchanges of views. We will continue this process.