Monday Message 20.03.23
Mother’s Day roots stretch back to the Middle Ages but was promoted in the UK in 1914 by medicine dispenser Constance Adelaide Smith.
She was inspired by the Mother’s Day movement in the United States but reached back to its medieval origins and argued for a deeper, more inclusive definition of mothers and mothering. And so Mothering Sunday arose.
Sunday 19th March 2023 was both a celebration of mothers and of family and friends who mother and of mother earth. It was a time of sorrow and memory of loss.
Also, it was a reminder of the importance of family and friends in our lives.
As barristers we achieve our standing on the world stage in part due to our conscientious commitment to our clients. However, a life outside work should not be a privilege. It is a right.
And so, to a heart-warming example, courtesy of Crime Girl of twitter:
A Barrister emailed a Judge over a sentence fixed at 10am requesting the sentence to be put back slightly as their child was in a special assembly at school.
Response: “I always missed these things. I would hate to be the cause of someone to feel as I often did back then. Of course, you must go.”
In criminal work, we are used to the mothers of victims and defendants quietly sitting in court listening to evidence as to how their child was killed or how their child committed the crimes headlined in an indictment, as they stand in the dock.
Barristers try to take care of those mothers.
Courts also need to take care of the carers in wigs and gowns.
Barristers always work back the favour in different ways.
We are facing the reality of overworked courts whilst also continuing to play a role in shaping that reality; one of which includes a private life for barristers.
Thank you to those who responded to the recent survey. Over 150 of you responded with detailed feedback on issues with the common platform and listing. With thanks to Ellie Fargin for reviewing early and late listings on Court Serve.
The information will be forwarded to the Senior Presiding Judge and to the Crown Court Improvement Group.
The weeks are filled with meetings with the Ministry of Justice as the last part of the deal is being brought into force.
Minister Freer continues to reassure that that there remains commitment by the government to this final stage and the value of the additional £3.3 million will be realised over the spending review period, despite the current delay.
“I am clear that we should find a way to get the additional funding for the next two financial years out as soon as possible and in as straightforward a way as possible to minimise the risk of any further delay.”
Unfortunately, straightforward isn’t always the answer when considering medium and long-term reform and so after a further meeting with the Ministry of Justice, I have written to the Deputy Prime Minister in an effort to take Ministers back to recommendations of CLAR as well as the deal itself.
The MoJ is tying itself in unnecessary knots with concerns at overspend but the work of the civil servants is appreciated as we move through this final part.
Historically, of course, the MoJ projections always are far in excess of actual spend. Historically, of course, barristers have never received the underspend amount.
There are further meetings this week and I continue to work alongside the CBA remuneration committee and the Bar Council remuneration committee.
As concerns are starting to ripple through the robing rooms, a reminder of the implementation of the deal to date is set out below.
This is a summary, and those with a nose to detail, will see how the bumps in the road smoothed and dates of bringing into force moved forward to minimise delay.
This takes constant communication with the MoJ and has been a strong working relationship to date.
15% uplift on the backlog
- The first statutory instrument was laid on 11th October 2022 and came into force on 31st October 2022.
- It applied to 97% of the cases in the backlog (AGFS 11).
- The eight older schemes were covered by a further S.I. that came into force on 23rd December 2022.
- The loss of that value caused by that delay was £293,000. The MoJ rounded the figure up to £300,000 and added it to the £3 million committed to the special preparation/wasted preparation part of the deal.
- The MoJ provided a figure of 54 cases as those which would not receive the uplift due to operational cost of around £2 million for schemes which were obsolete. These cases are pre- 2018 and pre-CLAR.
- The CBA Executive agreed that it would consider each of the 54 cases in the context of hardship. To date there only has been one contact.
- Detail of any cases where there were issues with the LAA were communicated to the MoJ with largely successful outcomes.
- If a trial commences before the Statutory Instrument comes into force but concludes after that date, the case will receive the uplift.
- Section 2.1 of the remuneration regulations define the main hearing as ‘the trial’.
- The main hearing date will be the final date of the trial regardless of when it commenced.
The above was a very quick implementation but it was in accordance with our strict timetable as nailed in -and then voted for- in the deal. All was ahead of the Government response to CLAR and ahead of a crowded legal aid field. We did not leave our solicitor colleagues behind and ensured that the uplift on the backlog applied to LGFS as well as AGFS.
Government Response to CLAR
- The estimated barristers’ additional fee income is 17% (table Y), although the table does not appear to have taken into account the £4 million for section 28 cases and so a further assessment will likely be higher.
- The S.I for a bolt on fee of £670 plus VAT was laid on 31st January 2023 and brought into force on 1st February 2023.
- This is an exceptional bringing into force in 24 hours.
- It occurred after I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister on the 25th of January 2023, raising concerns that the proposed S.I. was then coming into force at the end of February.
- Minister Freer demonstrated commitment in his work to move forward the date and in his subsequent letter. Whilst appreciating the argument that the deal is the deal; this was a positive marker of altered working with the CBA and a preference for remedies.
The letter on 3rd of February from the Minister Freer reaffirms the commitment to the £4 million spend until March 2025. The review in the Spring is to maximise opportunity to further increase these fees. .
- Its meetings to date have been on 28th of October 2022, 24th of January 2023 and its next meeting is 25th of April 2023. Its terms of reference as drafted during the deal were adopted.
- There is an AGFS sub-committee and LGFS sub-committee, where the detail of the work is carried out. The AGFS sub-committee includes the most junior.
- CLAAB continues to be a new way of working for the legal profession and the MoJ and to date is delivering its first work in accordance with the deal.
- However, the CBA has started to increase the pressure of its concerns at the slowness of appointing a Chair and has actively been working to facilitate this process.
In summary, the CBA is keeping the MoJ’s feet to the fire whilst developing working relationships with a view to being in a position in the future to influence the Spending Review and Budget considerations of spend on legal aid.
Work is ongoing on the detail of the uplift including some VHCC cases. Your communication on lack of payment for sentencing notes has been communicated.
The CBA remains grateful for the work being done by Michael Hoare and Tristan Bradshaw of the CPS.
CBA on tour
Tomorrow, Tuesday 21st of March 2023, the CBA will be visiting the North Eastern Circuit. Drinks will be 19.00 hours at Trinity Chambers, Newcastle.
Please come along.
We are here to listen and support and to achieve change where needed.
Above all, of course, I love to meet and chat!
With huge thanks for the hospitality of Toby Hedworth KC, Head of Chambers, Trinity Chambers, Newcastle, and Tim Harris the Chambers Director.
With thanks also to our CBA regional representative, Chris Moran.
Thanks as always to Aaron who has been organising.
Wood Green Crown Court Open Day
Please come to the Wood Green Crown Court Open Day on Thursday 6th April 2023.
This is a relaunch after Covid, with the last Open Day being in 2019. As is to be expected with HHJ Lucas KC at the helm, the 2019 day was a huge success with over 1600 members of the public attending, including young people interested in a career at the Criminal Bar.
The CBA will be attending and the court is looking for volunteers to act as advocates/witnesses/ defendants in their mock trials.
Let’s inspire the future generations and remind ourselves why we practise in criminal law.
If you are interested in getting involved, please reply to this email.
I’ll see you there!
Spring Conference/Summer Conference
Our wonderful Spring Conference now will be a summer conference when we hope that a rail strike won’t interfere.
There is a change of venue, but we are sticking firmly to the North and the new venue is the Midland Hotel, Manchester. It might be less footballers and Hollywood actors populated but it is a beautiful historic venue.
Do come to the dinner and the conference. It is an opportunity for learning from the best, a fun get-together and a chance to put our arms around each other.
We are just in the final process of transferring the details over to the new venue. The booking process will open next week but if you would like to attend, please reply to this email.
The next CBA Lecture: Social Media and the Bar on Thursday 13th April (Online)
Hold onto your wigs as the Secret Barrister reveals all (except who they are).
It promises to be a witty and informative evening as we look at all aspects of social media including with viewpoints of Danny Robinson KC, a barrister at 5KBW and James Rossiter, CBA Communications Director.
Please submit any questions on social media to Aaron before 12th April 2023.
15% discount on Archbold
Some practical savings:
You will receive the 2023 edition plus the latest cumulative supplement which covers the latest legislative amendments, including updates to the Criminal Procedure Rules and Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) as well as recent significant case law.
The first meeting of the international sub-committee took place last week. Please contact Aaron or Peter Carter KC if you are interested in getting involved with international criminal law. We already have the details of those who have expressed interest in Ukraine work and they have been forwarded to the government lead.
I have been invited by the Secretary of State for Justice to represent the CBA at the Ukraine reception this evening.
CBA Young Bar Committee and Final Words
The final words of this message are left to the Zayd Ahmed, the Chair of the CBA YBC whose committee has picked up the work the CBA sought to start with its juniors in Autumn 2022 on magistrates’ and youth courts’ fees.
He also attended our Officers’ meeting last week which was the start of the CBA YBC Chair attending the weekly Officers’ meetings as well as the monthly Executive meetings.
I am delighted at this change and the beginnings of joint CBA/Bar Council magistrates’ fees reform work.
And so, to spotlight Zayd:
During the action a light was shone on the fees the most junior of the profession are paid particularly at the magistrates and youth courts. Whilst we are grateful for the uplift we received, this has not been filtered down to the lower courts and the consequence is clear. Juniors leaving the self-employed bar.
We have started work on reviewing the magistrates’ court protocol to ensure that juniors are paid fairly for the important work at the magistrates and youth courts. This involves seeking an uplift in fees. Meetings have been held with the Bar Council and will continue to be held with our solicitor colleagues.
In order to evidence the problem, a survey will be coming out next week and we urge those under 7 years’ call to complete so we can utilise the data to seek an increase to magistrates and youth court fees.View more news