Monday Message 17.06.13
- Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment
- The Justice Select Committee. Grayling Summoned to give evidence
- The Equality Commission tries to get Mr Grayling to see sense
- Andrew Lansley misleads the House of Commons
- Proposed Mass Lobby of Parliament (including Find your MP )
- Is the BSB a capable regulator? The Stobart debacle throws up more questions
- The MOJ issues a consultation on Regulation
- Another Botch up in MOJ Procurement
- Mr Grayling’s Dream
- Nominations for Vice-Chair
- A Meeting of the Society of Asian Lawyers
- Stephen Bird informs Mr Grayling of the realities of life.
- What’s In the Press
- Blogs and You Tube
- E-petition – Save Uk Justice
1. Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
A sure sign that those in favour of PCT know they have lost the argument is characterised by Quentin Lett’s rant and a series of pieces in the Daily Mail taking a swipe at the legal profession. The Daily Mail followed this up with a series of predictable pieces on how dreadful it was to give legal aid to anyone. I give you one illustration from Saturday’s Daily Mail HERE. As you will see from our Press column the Daily Mail is becoming increasingly more isolated. Even its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday thinks Grayling’s plans are out of touch. Finally the battle lines are drawn. Dominic Grieve underlines the point. He is the Attorney General and a lawyer, unlike Mr Grayling. The last time PCT was on the table he has strong words to say about it. In the Law Society Gazette in 2004
And again in 2005
Here are a few highlights:-
‘I do not see how either I or my colleagues would ever accept the notion of outsiders being able to own law firms,
‘It is all very well setting up an independent regulator appointed, I note, by the Lord Chancellor, but the fact is that the state will be taking a very big stake in the future in the way in which professions operate. If states wish to abuse that position, it is very easy for them to do so. I am a cynic. I think if you give people power, they start to use it.’
‘Large numbers of firms will stop doing the work. The remaining firms will, I suspect, be of very dubious reputation and quality. I think that far from it ultimately saving money, it will all come tumbling down…
‘I cannot see the rationale for this policy at all, except – [and] I suppose this is what they want to do – to destroy criminal legal aid for defence work and introduce an entirely publicly funded defender system, in which case we are taking a rather unpleasant step towards a Soviet-style state.’
Surely his view cannot have changed? It is clear that it is not just me that Mr Grayling refuses to listen to.
2. The Justice Select Committee. Grayling Summoned to give evidence.
A couple of months ago it did not appear that the Justice Select Committee was going to examine Mr Grayling’s proposals. How things have changed. On Tuesday, myself, Maura McGowan QC, Lucy Scott Moncreif, Bill Waddington, Roger Smith and Tudor Owen gave evidence. You can see how we all did HERE.
or read the evidence HERE.
Now it’s Mr Grayling’s turn. On Wednesday the Justice Select Committee issued this press release:
The Government’s Transforming Legal Aid Consultation Proposals
Evidence Session with Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
The Justice Committee will take oral evidence from Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on the proposals for reform of criminal and civil legal aid set out in the Government’s consultation paper Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system.
The evidence session will take place at Westminster on Wednesday 3 July at 9.30am. The exact venue will be announced nearer the time.
The Committee yesterday held an evidence session with organisations representing lawyers and others on the proposals for price competitive tendering of criminal legal aid provision contained in the Government’s consultation paper.
The Committee has received a substantial number of written representations on the various proposals relating to criminal and civil legal aid contained in the Government’s consultation paper and, because of the tight timetable the Government has set out for its decision-making, the Committee is not issuing a general invitation for further submissions to be made to it, although any individual or organisation wishing to convey further information or views to the Committee on the subject may do so.
3. The Equality Commission tries to get Mr Grayling to see sense
Quentin Lett’s can take what ever cheap jibes he likes at me. Will he have any credibility left when the Equality Commission say exactly the same thing. Oh Dear Mr Lett’s they just have HERE.
4. Andrew Lansley misleads the House of Commons
On Friday the following question was asked of Mr Lansley (Leader of the House)
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab):
Will the Leader of the House ask the Lord Chancellor to come to the House to explain his flawed policy on legal aid? He refuses to meet the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society is threatening legal action, the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls are against it, and it undermines the English legal system. We need a statement or a debate in Government time.
This was his reply:
I sat here with my right hon. and hon. Friends during Justice questions a few days ago when almost exactly the same point was made to them, and I heard them reply and say how often they meet the Criminal Bar Association and others and that they had done so recently. I will, of course, draw their attention to what the hon. Lady has said, but I heard them say that it is not true that they are not discussing this issue with those affected.
As you are all too aware Mr Grayling has refused to meet me at ever possible turn. I have asked him to make a suitable correction. We shall see if he responds.
You can see how I was this weekend:
5. Proposed Mass Lobby of Parliament
Following the great success of the 22nd May Justice for sale meeting the joint groups are organising a mass lobby by solicitors, barristers, employees, family and friends of MP’s on successive Mondays on the 1st,8th and 15th in July commencing at 17.00 with arrival an hour earlier. The same brilliant booking software will be used (free of charge this time) to ensure that each lobby day is not oversubscribed in terms of numbers to avoid swamping the house of commons security and delay for the profession. As each Monday is filled so the bookings will be shifted to next Monday and so on. A full up to date briefing document for MP’s will be provided. Those who have already seen their MP’s might consider attending as it is also a press ‘event’ and we will need people to be there in numbers, introduce others to their MP’s in groups as you wish and to act as stewards. Much more information will be made available shortly including the link to the booking web site.
This event needs a good bit of organising so we thought we would give you some warning. As a starter you will need to identify your MP. A mass lobby entitles you only to call on your own MP and in consequence you will need to book accordingly. Here is a link to help you do just that.
6. IS the BSB a capable regulator? The Stobart debacle throws up more questions
We have un-earthed the actual licence issued to Stobart’s by the BSB. It is in the following terms HERE.
You will see that the licence entitles Trevor Howarth personally to instruct Bar Direct on behalf of Stobart’s, their Directors, their employees or clients.
It begs the question whether the BSB carried out any due diligence before granting such a licence or if they did what standards of propriety they are expecting from the “New Providers”
See HERE what one Judge thought of Trevor Howarth.
“Cavalier and Slapdash” are normally not the kind of recommendations that you would have thought would have won you a BSB licence in this brave knew world.
7. The MOJ issues a consultation on Regulation
There could be no better time for this could there? This is the “Red Tape Challenge”
To obtain more information about the challenges legal service providers face the Ministry of Justice is conducting a review of the legal services statutory framework.
The review will consider what could be done to simplify the regulatory framework and reduce unnecessary burdens on the legal sector while ensuring there is still appropriate oversight. It will consider the full breadth of the legislative framework, covering at least 10 pieces of primary legislation and over 30 statutory instruments.
MoJ are also open to comments on the interaction between the legislative framework and the detailed rules and regulations of the approved regulators, licensing authorities and the Legal Services Board and Office for Legal Complaints, although these are not owned by MoJ.
To kick off the review MoJ is issuing a ‘call for evidence’. The evidence will be analysed to identify potential ways in which the framework might be simplified. MoJ are interested in hearing legal service providers’ concerns with, and ideas for reducing, regulatory burdens and simplifying the legal services regulatory framework.
MoJ would be interested in ideas covering the overall legislative framework, and any specific provisions or aspects within it.
Responses should be sent to the Legal Services Review, or to Legal Services Review, post point 4.41, Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AH, by 2 September 2013. This is part of wider efforts by Government to cut red tape as part of the red tape challenge.
We will of course be forming a response committee and will publish contact details next week for your input.
8. Another Botch up in MOJ Procurement
The ever assiduous Marco Gianngelli of the Sunday Express exposes yet more costly procurement by the MOJ HERE.
Is it any wonder that the MOJ withdrew another computer procurement exercise worth £300 million on the day the Justice Select Committee sat.
9. Mr Grayling’s Dream
Another fine piece form somewhere on the Western Circuit.
10. Nominations for Vice-Chair
Nominations for Vice-Chair close on Friday 21st June. Very few of you should be able to resist taking up the cudgels on behalf of the public and our profession. Do not miss your opportunity.
11. A Meeting of the Society of Asian Lawyers
Carrying the campaign to parliament did not end with my contribution to the Justice Select Committee. The same evening I took up an invitation from the Society of Asian Lawyers [SAL] to address a packed meeting in committee room 14. Well over a hundred leading politicians, lawyers and activists gathered to debate the dire threat faced by small minority firms; a vast number of which face extinction if PCT goes ahead. Anyone who has studied the MoJ’s own Impact Assessments will know that they have already conceded that minority clients and lawyers will suffer severe and disproportionate discrimination. BAME law firms serving their local communities around the country will be amongst the first victims of the 75% cull in providers. The onward impact on minority barristers who often rely heavily on support from these firms is obvious. It will set back decades of progress we have made in improving diversity in the bar. The meeting on Tuesday night heard from Sadiq Khan MP, Keith Vaz MP, Paul Mendelle QC, Andrew Caplen and many others. And in the final speech Jo Sidhu QC, Co-Chair of SAL, delivered an eloquent and impassioned appeal to the political classes to protect the breadth of diversity created in the bar and increasingly in the judiciary. And, very importantly, he reminded us all that we are fighting these changes to ensure that the next generation of publicly funded lawyers retain hope that there will still be a decent criminal justice system left for them to serve.
12. Stephen Bird informs Mr Grayling of the realities of life.
The ever excellent Stephen Bird tells Mr Grayling about the realities life at the coal faceHERE.
13. What’s in the Press?
Cuts – Guardian Comment
Independent Comment #2
Amnesty International warns of the risks arising from legal aid cuts
“Amnesty believes the cuts will hit the most vulnerable in the country the hardest, with the proposed changes excluding individuals such as migrants, survivors of trafficking and children from accessing justice. The changes would also mean that government bodies would be less accountable for their actions.”
Letter in Financial Times from Carmelite to rectify the FT’s non-committal article
Legal aid cuts and some background to the government’s proposal in the Criminal Law & Justice Weekly
Where the Money could come from? The Independent and the Banks
The Mail on Sunday corrects its sister Organ
13. Blogs and You Tube
Hard working Barristers: Powerful Beyond
Conservative Students come out against Grayling Oh Dear!
14. E-petition – Save UK Justice
Rachel Bentleys E-petition is nearing the 100K mark which is the magic figure for a debate in parliament, current signatures stand at 91,645
Let’s have a final push! Please email to friends and family! HERE is the link.
Do Right, Fear No One
Michael (Bloody) Turner