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Monday Message 08.07.13

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Michael Turner QC

Personal Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07951157030
The Monday Message 8th July 2013



Personal Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07951157030


1.       Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment
2.       Grayling puts client choice back on the table and wrecks PCT in the process
3.       Grayling at his sickening worst in evidence before the Justice Select Committee
4.       Elections for Vice Chair: See almost all your candidates on You Tube
5.       The Tagging Scandal deepens
6.       The MOJ accounts: The myth that the savings are required from the sharp end exposed
7.       Damien Green turns his hand to wasting money and wrecking the system
8.       Eddie Stobart’s continues to mislead
9.       The Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Mayor’s dinner and Mr Grayling
10.     The Second Consultation Anticipated by “Somewhere on the Western Circuit ”
11.     A Wilde Cartoon Selection and more
1.       Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
Following Mr Grayling’s appearance at the Justice Select Committee hearing, there has been a good deal of disquiet about the meeting he had with the Law Society in advance of giving evidence.
I would like to set out what happened at the Joint Practitioners meeting and how the proposals came about.
The President of the Law Society had arranged to meet with Mr Grayling initially after his evidence session before the Committee. Mr Grayling however sought to bring the meeting forward. The CBA together with the CLSA and the LCCSA advised that no meeting should take place until after Mr Grayling had given evidence, fearing that he would use such a meeting to try and break the current unity. The President insisted that she attend the re-scheduled appointment. Preferring that the President had an alternative proposal as to structure alone, the meeting sought to provide such a document. The scheme only dealt with the solicitor profession and said nothing in relation to the Bar. The proposal was a collaborative effort but there was no means unanimity as to the entirety of it.
The proposed scheme seeks to deal with two particular issues a) the spectre of the ghost solicitor and b) over supply in the market place.
No one can sensibly argue that the practice of selling duty solicitor slots should not be banished forever. What has caused alarm is the proposals for change coupled with the spin put upon them by Mr Grayling.
Far from seeking to crush small firms these proposals seek to protect them. Small firms will be allowed to maintain their size for a year, after which the Law Society may instruct them to take on further staff if wishing to remain in the market place. This could be as little as one extra duty solicitor. The firms will then have a year to comply. Additionally the Law Society is seeking to introduce a scheme whereby two one-man firms may come together under an umbrella management structure whilst maintaining their identity.
Whilst the CBA stood back from structuring this scheme, it appears it has a lot of merit to it. The BFG had wanted minimum contract sizes, which would have decimated the small firms. This proposal is nowhere near that. It allows the small firms to upsize slowly and proportionately.
There is absolutely no mention in the proposals of a cut in fees nor a concession from the Law Society that one is required.
Mr Grayling has failed to understand his own scheme. PCT is dead with client choice restored. You can not tender for a contract if you do not know what slice of the market place it gives you.
Mr Grayling’s reliance on this meeting gave the impression it was more than it was. He used it to try and drive a wedge between the Bar and solicitors profession. This attempt has sadly been assisted by others within the professions who should frankly know better.
All of us have pledged to fight cuts and PCT to the bitter end. We have joined side by side to do just that. Do not allow ignorance and spin to pull us apart.
Whilst there was no agreement as to the tactic of meeting Mr Grayling in advance of the Judicial Select Committee, the Law Society has not sought to sell either its own profession or ours short.
Richard Atkinson who has worked as hard as anyone to keep us all together explains the proposals HERE.
The only thing politicians are really good at is sowing the seeds of doubt in others. There is not a leader at the Bar or within the solicitors’ profession who is in favour of making cuts and indeed there is simply no moral or practical case for them. Indeed the opposite is true.
Courage mon brave:
Do Right and Fear No One.

2.       Grayling puts client choice back on the table and wrecks PCT in the process
In an effort to ease the burden of him giving evidence before the Justice Select Committee Grayling announced that client choice was back on the table HERE and HERE
He has failed however to grasp the importance of lack of client choice for PCT, maybe he should speak to Jack Straw. Jack Straw realised that BVT would only work if there was no client choice which is why Labour abandoned it. You can not offer a contract for tender if the tenderer does not know what he is bidding for.

Turner Driver

3.       Grayling at his sickening worst in evidence before the Justice Select Committee
Grayling gave evidence before the Judicial Select Committee on Tuesday. Ian West and myself went along to see the sceptical. You can catch it for yourselves:
On Parliament TV HERE
Read the transcripts HERE
Or cheat and watch the BBC coverage HERE.
The first to arrive was Ms Gibby with a troop of eight civil servants, whose sole job, it turned out, was to provide a human shield between Mr Grayling and Ian West and myself. Grayling himself strode into view with Damien Green some 15 or so minutes later. He was desperate to join his civil service team in the Committee corridor. However realising that he would have to pass me to get to them he choose to settle himself three benches away from the Committee room. Having given evidence he exited with great haste and must have run up the corridor to avoid me, as he had disappeared by the time I exited, only 5 or so seconds after him.
You will no doubt read his evidence for yourselves. But allow me to give you a couple of highlights. In seeking to justify his scheme Grayling inadvertently castigated the CPS model. He told the Committee that the Bar was safe because no solicitor’s firm would be idiotic enough to employ in- house Barristers because it was an unsustainable business model. These words were just about the only sense he spoke.  You can have no doubt that the Justice Select Committee understood the nature of the beast and were deeply shocked. If the penny had not dropped before, it certainly did when Grayling was expounding his views on prisoner rights or lack of them. He was asked by Jeremy Corbin MP whether he thought it right that a prisoner who had been tortured should be denied legal aid.  His answers were as extraordinary as they were revealing. Prisoners, he said, should only have legal aid to appeal their conviction or sentence. All other complaints, however serious, could be dealt by the prison ombudsman. He thought that any contrary view was an ideological difference.
That tells you all you need to know about Grayling’s ideology and I can not imagine Mr Cameron can be pleased:
Churchill said that a democracy was to be judged by how it treated its prisoners. This has been Conservative philosophy for a very long time.  Cardinal Roger Mahony re-stated the principle most recently:
“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; the last, the least, the littlest.”
We will wait and see how the Justice Select Committee and more importantly Mr Cameron react. We have certain clues, this is what Steve Brine, Tory MP and member of the Committee has to say:

4.       Elections for Vice Chair: See almost all your candidates on You Tube
Links to almost all your candidates’ videos below
Tony Cross QC
Jeremy Dein QC
Simon Spence QC
David Hawker QC has chosen not to submit a video piece.
Voting ends on Monday 15th at 5.30pm. You can vote online or click HERE to download a paper ballot. I hope you all have realised what the CBA can achieve with a strong and dedicated leadership. This is your opportunity to shape that leadership. Don’t miss it. VOTE NOW

5.       The Tagging Scandal deepens
Grayling has been forced to bring in auditors to examine just how badly G4S and Serco have been ripping off the tax payer. At what cost one wonders.
The Telegraph article
The Guardian article
If the MOJ continue to flirt with the private sector for the supply of public services after this then some very serious questions will have to be asked about the integrity of their procurement process. We have suggested to the Public Accounts Committee that it is time for them to examine all of the MOJ contracts. If Grayling really wants to save tax payers money, this is where he should start. Attack those who are truly ripping off the tax payer and not the Bar who provide probably the best value public service there is.

6.       The MOJ accounts: The myth the savings are required from the sharp end exposed
Now that the consultation has come to an end the MOJ have published the accounts HERE
As was perfectly predictable they show that the cost of legal aid is spiralling downwards and that all the Government has been saying was spin and nothing more. We want honest Government that truly wants to save the tax payer money, whilst providing a legal service they deserve.

7.       Damien Green turns his hand to wasting money and wrecking the system
Clearly feeling that Grayling has been hogging the lime light for really ridiculous ideas, Damien Green has come up with some of his own HERE.
I have not had much time to digest these but they have the feel of a train crash in the making.

8.       Eddie Stobart’s continues to mislead
The Guardian last week in a good piece on the cuts gave Trevor Howarth some air time HERE.
This is what he had to say:-
“We at Stobart are well known for taking out the waste, here that is the duplication of solicitors going to court. There are currently 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn’t use 10 trucks to deliver one product.
The key issue is delivering a quality of service in a more cost-effective way. We are bypassing solicitors and fixing a fee [with the client] at the outset. The same people are going to be standing in front of magistrates [as now]. They will be doing it at a different rate to today. We are very selective about the quality of our legal representation. [People are not] entitled to access justice with an open cheque. This [legal aid] is a massive spend so far as the taxpayer is concerned. The problem for other firms has been their legacy debt. We have a blank sheet of paper. We can deliver [a service] at a cost that’s palatable to the taxpayer.”
As you all know Trevor Howarth is simply inserting his firm in between the public and the Bar to charge the public for a service they can get for free. The analogy he makes with his haulage business is as always revealing. One truck is much like the next. Lawyers, Mr Howarth, you will find have different skills and specialisms. How he is able to determine who might be the best person for the job we can only guess. Certain it is he can not have the 1000 barristers he claims at his disposals because I know not a single one who is prepared to accept instruction from a man who is charging what we all regard is a referral fee.
We will not stop until this disservice to the public is brought to an end.

9.       The Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Mayor’s dinner and Mr Grayling
The Lord Chief Justice rightly received a standing ovation for his speech on Thursday at the Lord Mayor’s dinner. Mr Grayling did not.
Read the account HERE
Incumbent Lord Chief Justices must be careful what they say and as you can see the press were a tad confused in connection with his warning about the independence of the judiciary.
All the lawyers present clearly knew, as do we, why he was giving that trenchant warning
An independent judiciary can not survive Grayling’s plans and our Lord Chief is as always right, we must remain forever vigilant to protect our democracy.

10.     The Second Consultation Anticipated by “Somewhere on the Western Circuit”
In light of Grayling’s announcement during giving evidence before the Justice Select Committee that there would be a second consultation, “Somewhere on the Western Circuit” has, with great foresight, anticipated what it might look like HERE.

11.     A Wilde Cartoon Selection
“A joke is a very serious thing” Churchill

Since I am in Churchillian mood this week, let me finish with another quote from him:
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
Do Right, Fear No One
Michael (Bloody) Turner 

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