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Monday Message 06.10.14

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC

Monday 6 October 2014

E: [email protected]

T: 07860 692693 

Gone Girl(s) [and Guys]?

President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Lloyd M. Mhishi – Human Rights – two tier contracts – EPE – the Prime Minster’s speech – organisation and a point at Leicester.

Tuesday PM-Lloyd M Mhisi’s story[1]

I’m at Middle Temple in London. I’m doing a speech to lawyers from around the world. I speak after Nick Lavender and Andrew Caplen from the Law society. I tell them of oppression and our struggle for human rights and our belief in the rule of law. I swear I saw a tear in the eye of some of those in the audience.

Wednesday AM – Tony’s story

My first ‘Opening of the legal Year’. For all its show, it is a real representation of the rule of law. Pause to think how marvelous the speech was from Lloyd Mhishi, the President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe and how we, great and clever though we think we are,  can learn so much from lawyers and judges in other jurisdictions. As the great Nick Lavender says, “The opening of the legal year is a significant and highly anticipated event for so many legal practitioners, not least the Bar. It provides an invaluable opportunity to reaffirm the values that bind our profession at home and abroad, and to reaffirm our commitment to the Rule of Law.” Hear hear.  The LC breaks with tradition and addresses the breakfast and repeats many of the sentiments of the night before and at the Abbey 

Wednesday PM – hear the news that the Government are going to abolish the Human Rights Act and receive a text from a colleague indicating that the PM has indicated in his speech that further cuts are on the way to the Court system.

I wonder, who is writing this script? 

Two tier contracts

We currently enjoy cordial relations with government officials and long may that continue, but we cannot and will not ignore the sensible and sound arguments made by our friends.

No one should doubt for a moment that we believe in the fundamental importance of the independent bar but consider the landscape if we lose those firms  who traditionally send their work to us- the partnership that has served the country so well and which was spoken of so highly by the Lord Chancellor.

Thus it is of vital importance to make your views known – we cannot allow about 75% of the firms who supply us with work to be wiped from the face of the legal landscape.

I urge you to inform yourselves of the issues with urgency. I will today write to all Heads of Chambers and each CBA representative to ask them to mobilise and coordinate responses to the consultation which closes on the 15th October.

The LCCSA have produced a useful resource which can be found HERE.

Electronically Served Evidence 

At Tuesday’s executive I gave a commitment that we would resolve this issue. You were told when electronically served telephone evidence  first began to emerge that you would get paid for it. You are not, and, if you are, it is not without a fight and months later. There is a simple solution to all this-pay us for the work we do. We are considering the steps that can be taken if a satisfactory resolution of this issue is not reached soon.

Some good news.

Those of you who have read the most recent CBQ [thanks to John Cooper QC and his team] will know that I attach huge importance to the progression of the brightest and best to the bench so I welcome the announcement that it is expected that a Recorder selection exercise will launch in March 2015. Numbers are to be confirmed but it is anticipated that vacancies will be across all Circuits and in both crime and family. As I waited in line to meet the Lord Chancellor at the Abbey on Wednesday morning I looked at the long line of High Court judges who had prosecuted and defended throughout their career. I wonder if their career path would have been so smooth under the current regime. I know with certainty that some would long since have walked away from the Criminal bar.


The mark of any good organisation is its ability to be ready for any eventuality. The PM’s comments about cuts to the Courts sent a chill down my spine. I do not wish to revisit the struggles of last year any time soon. I understood that Government were aware that there was simply no more meat on the bones of the CJS. We must all watch carefully.  May I urge you please to ensure that your set is organised so that opinions can be taken effectively and speedily. The mark of any good team is to be prepared and to fight until the last whistle (rather like the Clarets on Saturday- Ross Wallace 2-2!).




[1] Just in case the reader is unfamiliar with ‘Gone Girl’- these are the words I attribute to Lloyd Mhishi


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