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Monday Message 16.06.14

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Nigel Lithman QC

Monday 16 June 2014


Personal Email: [email protected]


It may surprise those who know me that I can still recall (or ever learned) some of the subjects of the LL.B course I attended. Land Law wasn’t my best but I do remember the “rule against perpetuities” and  “wait & see”.  And so we wait. We wait to see how England fare against Uruguay on Thursday; and we wait (hopefully not too long) for the moment when we can finally say that the Independent Bar will go back to doing the current crop of VHCC cases; that proper fees are being offered in those cases; that the PDS is fully suspended from expansion and AGFs+ is around the corner.
I doubt there is anyone that does not have a sense, through official channels or otherwise, of at least broadly what is going on and that having dealt with threatened cuts to Grad fees we are now close to dealing with current VHCCs and what comes after. Of course it is frustrating not to be able to disclose the details at this stage – but please bear with us. Even if it seems quiet, rest assured that the CBA and Circuit Leaders together with the Chairman of the Bar are actively engaged behind the scenes to deliver an outcome acceptable to you (via those “road testing” any proposals on your behalf) and believe that real and active progress is being made. These constructive talks between the MOJ and the Bar recognise that we have more interests in common than divide us.
On Thursday night at the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks dinner at the Royal College of Surgeons, a brave but sensible table planner sat the Lord Chancellor next to Sarah Forshaw and opposite me. Also at the table were Hannah Beattie from the MOJ, Nick Lavender and Alistair Macdonald from the Bar Council and Baroness Deech of the BSB. I suppose we could have used the opportunity to try and settle all of our differences on Legal Aid and QASA as we had a Court of Appeal Judge in attendance, Lord Roger Toulson, and a Judicial icon, former LCJ Igor Judge, to adjudicate.
Instead we behaved rather well, ate our greens and listened in appreciation as our host President of the IBC remarked how much the Bar contributes in its skill and generous spirit. He pointed out that in recent times the Bar has appeared in 1800 cases pro bono. He was sufficiently restrained not to mention all the other work that is done pro bono.
The dinner was an excellent affair but I didn’t truly realise where I was ‘til the clerk sitting at the next table came over and took 10 per cent of my ravioli. Talking of which, it is high time to say a collective thank you on behalf of the CBA to all our clerks for their unwavering support throughout this past year.
Whilst inside the Royal College of Surgeons there was some frank expression of views as to the state of publicly funded Justice, outside a Brazilian forward Fred was falling over pretending he’d been fouled and asking for a penalty. The referee answered with FIFA clarity: Of course if you want a penalty you must have one, after all you are the home team. If only everything in life were that easy.
Saturday night saw millions of people watching TV in their homes, explaining ever so calmly and gently what Roy Hodgson should have done to improve our team’s performance, whilst at the same time trying to communicate to the referee the address of a well known optometrist.
As I enter my last couple of months in this post, the very many who have pointed out how much of my tenure has been a disaster now have the chance to come forward and put right my performance.
Seriously, it will of course be a challenging time. I hope I have managed to take the sting out of many of the tensions that have been hanging over us. The immediate future will require calm judgment; there clearly remains a mass to be done. Leveson and Rivlin are in full swing as we map out the future. This must be where our energy is channeled.
The “honorarium” for Vice Chair (man or woman) has been kept in check since it was based on a 1972 newspaper round. Anyone interested in self advancement or self promotion need not apply. But for the right candidate, with the determination and commitment to secure the future of the Independent Criminal Bar, this post offers the opportunity to make a real difference, in particular to those among the junior ranks of the profession and those yet to join. I can promise only one thing – you will find that to work side by side with Tony Cross is a pleasure.
The closing date for nomination is the 1st July. Don’t just “wait and see” who else might come forward

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