Monday Message – 20.04.15
CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC
Monday 20 April 2015
E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693
Put Justice on the Political Agenda
Have you written to the candidates yet? If not, please do so today. A summary of the respective parties’ positions can be found in the Legal Aid Handbook HERE. You will find HERE an example of a letter to send. Saturday’s newspapers carrying articles re: Elveden and the DPP demonstrated how fundamental is our system to our way of life. Please put Justice on the political agenda.
No one should be in any doubt that the CBA oppose the introduction of dual contracts and the devastation such would cause to the Criminal Justice System. Our response to the consultation HERE makes that plain. The issue, which concerns both branches of the profession, is what to do about it.
In the first instance we, like the Bar Council with their excellent Manifesto for Justice HERE are attempting to raise ‘Access to Justice’ to the election agenda. The CLSA and LCCSA are attempting to do likewise. The rally on the 23rd is one of the ways that this is being done. The CBA supports the rally and expects that its members will try to attend.
Second there is simply no mandate for immediate direct action. The overwhelming views of the executive reflect the views around the country. We do not, nor have ignored that there are contrary views. We would all agree that if and when the time comes for action that the action must be effective. Direct action now will achieve nothing.
We do not know who will form the next Government. What then would action achieve? Is it really thought that action now will cause the last Government to change its mind mid-election campaign?
We should also recognise that there are differing views of proposed action amongst solicitors. Some believe that the only way to defeat the proposals is for every firm to unite and refuse to sign up to the scheme. Solicitors are rightly concerned about what action the LAA may take against those who take action. Why should solicitors engage on such a course now even if such were possible, when, if Labour were to be elected the death of the scheme is assured?
Similar considerations apply to the Bar. Neither I or the Executive will endorse pointless action which puts at stake the livelihood of junior members of the bar; wasted costs orders, contempt proceedings, being removed from the CPS lists, professional misconduct are all risks. I will not endorse such action at this stage. There is no point. If we return to no returns it will be when the time is right.
Our plan is clear. Lobby. Support the Rally and prepare.