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Monday Message 17.11.14

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC 

Monday 17 November 2014

E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693 

On Tour
You will not be surprised to learn that when the Clarets go away they receive of nothing but the best; best hotels, best food, luxurious coaches etc. When the CBA go on tour (despite AD having organised things quite brilliantly) one of our number received no towels, cups or it seems any form of basic comfort at Sheffield’s cheapest hotel. Such is the lot of the publicly funded Bar!
I do not intend to report this week on the tour which took us to the North and North East before ending in England’s first city.  Next week we head for Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff before our final destination, London. A full report of our peregrination will follow.
All that needs to be said is that whilst morale is low among the membership there is an increasing desire to fight to preserve the Bar.  We all hear regular reports about threatened cuts for the future. We have made it plain that we will take no further reductions in fees and that it is time for a reversal of the downward trends of these past years.  I was interested to read this piece by Jan Zeber, HERE, a  graduate of the University of Bristol. Whilst there Mr Zeber chaired the Freedom Society.  He is now a Researcher at the TaxPayers’ Alliance.  His views reflect the sensible comments made by Lord Edward Faulks QC but last year.  There is simply no meat left on the bone of legal aid.
We have decided to postpone the deadline for the elections to the Executive and for Treasurer until after the second leg of the Tour is complete.  One thing is clear, I believe that it is in the interests of the CBA that we have as strong an Exec as possible drawn from membership across the country.  The new date for nominations is Monday 1 December and I encourage members from all Circuits to stand.  Although meetings usually take place in London, there is always a phone link. Physical attendance is welcomed but not essential.
Today we launch a campaign to gather information. This campaign cannot wait until the end of the tour.  Each city that we visited reported similar problems to a greater or lesser extent, supporting the regular complaints we receive.  Late claims of properly submitted bills by the LAA seem to be endemic.  This, notwithstanding the LAA recent award for operational excellence.  Over the last year there has been a mass of anecdotal evidence suggesting that not only the LAA have failed to pay promptly, but also that they are rejecting properly submitted bills for payment.  The high (low) point came only last week when the CBA received evidence that a bill was rejected because the advocate failed to sign the AGF form above the line, and instead submitted it signed below the line.
In light of the above the CBA are now collecting evidence of such failures.  Hard evidence can be used to argue our case in a way that anecdotal evidence cannot. We need your help gathering this evidence. If you have received late/improper payment, please email the CBA at [email protected] so that this evidence can be collated and used to enforce better compliance.
I stress that at this stage we are only collecting evidence of bills which were submitted within time and for which full payment was not made on time, or at all.   The link to the procedure is HERE.  I shall be asking each Chambers’ representative to ensure that a report is received.  I have also asked each of the Circuit Leaders to send out a similar message.
Although the full report of the ‘tour’ must wait I cannot end this MM without thanking all those in Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Middleborough and Manchester for your hospitality.

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