CBA ‘Monday’ Message 23.04.19

PROSECUTION FEES SURVEY RESULTS

THE CRIMINAL BAR HAS FOUND ITS VOICE

AND what a voice.

Over 2000 of you took the survey. A fantastic and overwhelming response at what is a seminal moment in our profession.

In a clear and unambiguous voice, the Bar has spoken. It has roundly rejected its present working arrangement with the CPS, when for too long it has been treated in a high handed and frankly desultory manner.

The Monday Message is now read far and wide so we repeat the following propositions because they are important. Just why should prosecutors put up with those long hours, drafting documents for which they receive no remuneration? Why should they do all of those “add ons” the “could you just” requests, which are performed out of professional duty? Just how much more and for how much longer is the Criminal Bar expected to put up with this?

This was a scheme created in 2001 and the rates have not just remained static since then, there were 5 percent cuts in 2012. Yes, that’s right, cuts, not increments. The scheme is positively medieval.

You have said NO:

Here are some highlights:

  • Do you believe that the current rates of remuneration for prosecution advocacy reflect the demands skill and responsibility the work involves?
99.36% said NO
  • Do you feel valued by the CPS more often than not?
84.68% said No
  • Has the amount of work expected of you increased, stayed the same or reduced over the past 5 years?
84.19% said yes
  • For those above who answered that the work expected had increased, has the amount of time spent dealing with unused material increased?
97.07% said yes
  • 97.67% agreed with paying a refresher for the second day in all cases to all counsel
  • 93.36%) agreed with paying an additional fee for written work i.e. advices, bad character, special measures, hearsay, replies to s.8 requests, opening notes and sentencing notes
  • 94.39% agreed with paying for the review of unused material
 AND FINALLY:
  • We have been engaging with the DPP and CPS Chief Executive on these issues since December 2018. We will continue to do this for a short further period. If all other routes are ultimately exhausted would you, in principle, be prepared to take action (potentially up to and including no returns and days of action) in order to achieve these reasonable requests and changes?

94.83% said yes

This is not rocket science. All we ask for is fair remuneration for work presently done for nothing. Please see the link to the survey below and read it. As you do so ask yourself this question “would you work for such an organisation?”

There is a saying, you can keep pushing and pushing until it breaks.  The old adage “you don’t know what you have until it is gone”, has never rung truer than it does at this moment. The fact is that the Bar has always been there and the powers that be have taken us for granted never thinking that they would lose us. Overburdened with work, work that was never part of any previous agreement and underpaid in a way that beggars belief, the Criminal Bar is saying plainly and simply “NO MORE”.

SURVEY RESULTS:

You can see the full results of the survey here and figures here

A MANDATE:

The results of the CBA survey on prosecution fees, has overwhelmingly given a mandate for action.

These results are from the Circuits across the country. What a sorry state of affairs they represent. It is bluntly, shameful. This is a national view. Lest anyone should think or try to delude themselves that there is any sense of a geographical division, think again. The concerns expressed are real, the complaints are justified, our treatment is shabby and we are determined to seek a change. The time for change is now. The Criminal Bar is one.

Please read the Times today and listen to radio news bulletins. Your message is going out.

PUBLIC SERVICE:

It needs to be remembered that as the independent Bar we are part of a wider public service. Society demands that ordinary members of the public can go about their ordinary day -to -day lives knowing that, albeit they are anxious and concerned about the rise in violent crime, that an independent and effective Criminal Bar is able to play its part. Underfunding year in year out with a nonsensical approach is failing the public. The continual cuts have brought the justice system to its knees. When a barrister cannot do his or her job properly, because the support is not there, then it is not they who are failing the public, it is that barrister’s pay masters. Giving lip service to the profession by the use of phrases such as “it’s under review” is simply no good. Action and action now is desperately needed. Do we want to be part of a system, in which the guilty go unpunished and the innocent are wrongfully convicted?

EROSION OF THE PROFESSION – EMAIL US:

One area that the survey exposed was an increasing group of people who had chosen to stop prosecuting. The poor remuneration, contrasted with the very long hours that cases can take has undoubtedly prompted an increasing number to take this step and as we know, to leave the profession. In my own chambers, two women of ability who prosecuted have left the Bar and a former pupil has chosen to concentrate on a civil practice because of the disparity in remuneration. So what chance the future of the Bar if this is a further state of affairs brought about by the crippling and continued cuts?
We need to hear about and from those who have taken these career changing steps. Please email in. All emails will be treated in confidence, but we need to hear. Email us.

A HUGE THANK YOU:

When we are in the teeth of a fight we sometimes forget just to pause and thank those who have played a part. So here is a long list where we say thank you, no doubt there should be more!

Thank you to the Circuits who hosted the meetings so that we could see what the opinion was up and down the country.

Thank you to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Bar Council who have put time and effort into the meetings. Thank you to the leaders of the Circuits who got behind the survey. Thank you to all the Heads of Chambers who sent out the emails and made sure chambers were engaged. Thank you to the CBA reps up and down the country and those who received emails from us. But above all, thank you to you, for filling in the survey. We can now go to the meetings with the CPS with a clear message.

AGFS – SURVEY:

We will shortly be sending out a survey re defence fees, so please engage in the same way.
The CBA is fighting for the profession, the profession’s life and its future.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE!

Some of you may have noted a different style in today’s message; Chris is busy speaking to the media about the survey and its impact, so it was delegated to your vice-Chair, but the message is the same. However, to end on a lighter note, a classic movie recommendation is provided, in keeping with the new CBA approach of continuing education! An Ealing classic; “Kind Hearts and Coronets”. Don’t roll your eyes …check it out!

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