Monday Message 12.05.14
CBA Chairman’s Update:
Nigel Lithman QC
Monday 12 May 2014
Personal Email: [email protected]
THE ART OF ADVOCACY.
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this job for over eight months. What does it all come down to ? The art of advocacy.
I have made many NBF (new best friends) on this journey, but of course as with us all it is our old best friends that largely sustain us.
One of mine is a warm hearted, very funny and hugely talented commercial silk.
Whilst watching the first part of the Orient v Peterboro’ play off battle, we found ourselves with plenty of time for general chat.
We discussed what had taken place in Court 75 of the RCJ in which Tom De La Mare QC , backed by Mark Trafford and Baker Mckenzie Solicitors, obtained permission to appeal against the QASA ruling of the Divisional Court. The hearing will be in July. It represents the criminal bar’s continued assertion that the scheme is not merely offensive in some key respects but is unlawful.
Hence the battle continues.
Let me pause to say that Tom was simply excellent. I passed a message to say I was willing to help if they found some DNA on any of the pleadings. He struggled on without me.
I am afraid that to state what was obvious to all of those in court, the most able advocate by a country mile was appearing pro bono, whilst the vastly less able advocates were talking about the telephone numbers that our regulators were prepared to pay those arguing against us.
I asked my commercial buddy why this might be. His response was that with some exceptions, it was still the criminal bar that was looked to for providing the most able advocates within the profession. The whole setup from pupilage through life in chambers , where we have on hand others to whom we turn for advice, is designed to produce those best at their job as well as those who feed through into silk and the judiciary.
Of course this is not to minimize the work done by many able solicitor advocates, it just makes the point that the criminal bar has had the privilege and advantage of evolving through generations at work in the higher criminal courts.
THE JEFFREY REPORT.
I know we don’t always read our briefs cover to cover, but THIS should be read in full.
Sir Bill acknowledges the general view that it is the Bar that provides the best advocates and represents best value for money. He believes that that in part is due to the fact that whilst it will take a member of the Bar 122 days of training to appear in a higher criminal court, it will take a solicitor 22 hours .
He is keen to protect our position. He proposes that stronger steps are devised to emphasise the professional duty to appoint the appropriate advocate for the case and that the Legal Aid Agency consider a more assertive role as guarantor of quality advocacy services.
In other words steps be looked at that guarantee the Bar both market share and reward.
Sir Bill also speaks of other models that may help achieve the same and focuses on the models for the bar in Scotland and New Zealand
We are setting up Sub Committees from within the CBA executive to provide a response to the suggestions.
Simon Hughes MP entered the fray. He obviously forgot that he had spoken against legal aid cuts before becoming a minister (easily done) and suddenly remembered that the Bar were handsomely rewarded for doing the work.
He spotted the bandwagon rolling by with the figure £100,000 and so of course he jumped on board. He made the point that these cases were not done by the more junior and needy members of the Bar, without recognizing that it because they are done by the more senior and most able, that is why they will not do the work at the rates (the true ones) offered.
The press continues to be full of this continuing argument, almost exclusively recognizing the points being made by the Barristers that won’t do the work.
The appeal is due to be heard on Tuesday.
One other feature of the week has been letters going out from the Legal Aid Agency in an inappropriately aggressive tone to solicitors regarding this work, The letter is available HERE.
BLAME THE BAR.
I have always found the blame game, especially the rude blame game very undignified and unattractive. The last eight months enforce that view.
When I took office it was “Blame Grayling”. I said forget that, just do whatever it takes and that includes direct action, to change his mind and his policy. We took that action and on the Grad fee cuts we changed his mind.
Now I often see “Blame the Bar”. It is equally unconvincing. Had we failed or if hereafter we fail, I might blame myself, but will not blame others.
What we have done to achieve what we have, is to use the art of advocacy coupled with our own determination and resolve.
I WISH TO USE THE ART OF ADVOCACY TO PERSUADE YOU TO MAKE OUR DINNER A SELL OUT.
THIS IS THE TIME WHEN ALL THE CRIMINAL BAR SHOULD GET TOGETHER FOR A GET TOGETHER
The BBC Chief legal correspondent and well known after dinner speaker Clive Coleman is our guest speaker.
See you on the 16th May .
If I can’t use advocacy, I’ll just mention the roast beef.