Over the last two months we have being trying to resolve this dispute as we have repeatedly told you. Last night we met with the Lord Chancellor and the Legal Aid minister and MoJ officials. There has been a breakthrough. This has been very difficult to achieve and has been an almost non stop effort on our part. We have been involved in extreme efforts to get to a position where we can consult the membership about a resolution.
Can I urge we have rational, restrained and informed debate. We have all acted with absolute clarity of purpose here we have achieved an unprecedented commitment to further investment. We are also of the view that at last the government is recognizing the importance of the Criminal Justice system should have in our society.
You will all have your own views and these will be critical. I have repeatedly stated that we will not accept any offer without proper and meaningful consultation.
We put the substance of the financial offer at the end of this announcement but will send much more detailed information through Heads of Chambers.
We will not suspend the action we have recommended on new cases under the AGFS scheme. However “no returns” is suspended until the 12th June with immediate effect. This allows us time to consult going forward without the hardening of attitudes that might be unhelpful on both sides.
The timetable for consultation is as follows:
- A Heads of Chambers’s meeting to be called at the earliest feasible date next week, the most likely dates being Tuesday 29th or Thursday 31st May.
- A ballot of the membership on the proposals thereafter.
- We do not underestimate the importance of this consultation, nor does the MOJ. We are in the uncharted territory of seeking to secure more global funding from the government, rather than seeking to prevent a cut. There are many detailed discussions to have in this two week period.
Details of the Offer:
The details of the offer in relation to the scheme is as follows;
- Extra funding of £8m for the fraud, drug and child sex cases that lose out under the new scheme.
- A 1% increase in AGFS from April 2019 (c.2.5m);
- Further funding for approximately £4.5m more for juniors.
- This would equate to £15million extra investment.
- There are other proposals about the wider Criminal Justice System which you will be notified of in due course.