Monday Message 20.05.13
NB: There will be 2 editions of the Monday Message this week. This is the first. The second will come on Wednesday to publish exclusively our draft consultation response
- Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
- South Eastern Circuit says No to QASA and Pledges support for All other Circuits
- Where we are on NO to QASA
- A Pat on the Back for Ruth Deech
- Eddie Stobart’s: a flabbergasting revelation by the BSB. The ridiculous state of our regulation and what to do about it.
- Final Proof that QASA is linked to PCT.
- Mr Grayling shows contempt for the consumer and confirms the consultation is a sham.
- How rising Practicing Certificate fees can kill the professions
- Lord Thomas of Gressford hits out in the Lords
- Early Day Motion is gaining currency
- Serco comes good again
- Sir Alan Beith changes his mind
- MOJ Roadshows; A experience not to be missed, where you can see the next one and how to book.
- Our own Sir Anthony Hooper comes out fighting
- Unity within the professions: Justice for Sale: A protest beforehand.
- What’s in the Press?
1. Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
One of the most heartening things to arise out of Saturday’s meeting was to hear so many barristers and solicitors saying how nice it was to renew old friendships. Why is it, they were saying, we have not seen you for such a long time etc. We have all been reminded what the past was like and why we want it back. The mood of depression is lifting and being replaced by a steely optimism. The number of you who are now offering help and support is phenomenal. Together we are going to beat down these ridiculous proposals and get our democracy back on track.
Do Right and Fear No One.
2. South Eastern Circuit says No to QASA and Pledges Support for All other Circuits
Sarah Forshaw QC, leader of the South Eastern Circuit, announced the result of the ballot on the Circuit, dealing with No to QASA and a pledge not to take work on Circuits who are required to register in advance of others. All Chambers on the South Eastern Circuit responded and the result, was made up of both individual ballot or an internal chambers ballot. In the event there was 99.5 % in favour of boycotting QASA and NOT going onto another Circuit. Just a single Circuiteer indicated they would sign up to QASA if it was illegal for them not so to do and could not pledge not to go on to any other circuit. The 400 or so in attendance greeted the news will rousing applause.
Sarah’s excellent speech was a call for unity of purpose and action. You can read it HERE.
I had a little bit to say as you can imagine and you can read it HERE.
Greg Powell (senior partner of Powell Spencer and partners) spoke beautifully and received a warm and rapturous reception.
The morning was brilliantly organised by Natasha Foy (Events and Administration Co-ordinator of the South Eastern Circuit). A huge hug goes to her for all her efforts.
A very special vote of thanks goes to Patrick Maddams (sub-treasurer of Inner Temple). The Inn had provided their magnificent hall for free. He not only was present for the event but he made it plain that the Inn would do everything in their power to support both the Circuit and the CBA.
It could have not been more apparent that the South Eastern Circuit has not forgotten how, by the actions of a few of its members in 2004, the brave stance taken in the North, for the good of all, was shattered. The very clear message to the other Circuits was this will never happen again.
3. Where we are on NO to QASA
All Circuits have said NO to QASA and taken the pledge to support one another with the exception of the Western. This is no criticism of them. Nigel Lickley QC (WC Leader) was the first to make a call to arms. Rightly he has taken the view that their first indication does not reflect the present mood of his Circuit and has now issued a ballot. That result will be in on Friday. You may anticipate the outcome. Unity is total.
4. A Pat on the Back for Baroness Ruth Deech
The Baroness made a tour de force speech in the House of Lords last week in defence of our Criminal Justice System HERE When she turns in a performance like this the intransigence stance taken by the BSB on QASA and other matters is that much harder to understand as my next piece will underline.
5. Eddie Stobart’s: a flabbergasting revelation by the BSB. The ridiculous state of our regulation and what to do about it.
I had written to the BSB to raise our concerns about Eddie Stobart’s. I was knocked for six by the reply. I strongly advise that you are seated when you read it.
Thank you for your email to Baroness Deech detailing your concerns about Stobart Barristers.
I hope I can clarify a number of things. It is a matter of public record that Stobarts has permission from the BSB for their legal department to instruct barristers without the intermediary of a solicitor under our licensed accessprovisions. We understand that “Stobarts Barristers” in contrast provides a service, for a fee, to put prospective clients in touch with barristers who work under public access rules of the Code of Conduct. The BSB does not comment publicly about matters concerning the conduct of individual companies or barristers unless and until formal disciplinary proceedings have been instigated.
It is important to understand the extent of the Bar Standards Board’s regulatory reach. As a regulator it is our duty to ensure that barristers working for any business are compliant with the Code of Conduct. We do not (yet) regulate the businesses that have barristers working for them.
The changes brought about by the Legal Services Act 2007, including the rise of new legal service businesses, may affect the way barristers have historically worked. The BSB is responding to this by seeking to introduce its own entity regulation regime and by making changes to the public access rules which are all designed to help the Bar work more flexibly and competitively in this new context. Moreover, the Handbook which we expect to be in force by January 2014 will include greater flexibility in the ways barristers can share premises and form associations with others. There will also be further guidance on referral fees.
The Bar Standards Board must make it possible for those who wish to work differently and compete in the provision of legal services to do so, within the constraints of statute of course.
The way in which barristers market themselves to the public, within our rules, is not a matter for the BSB as a regulator. It may well be that the Bar Council and Specialist Bar Associations as representative bodies could act in a way which benefits the public by providing such a service for finding barristers themselves.
I hope this is of assistance.
What Eddie Stobart’s are being permitted to do is charge a fee to the public for opening the Bar directory of Direct Access barristers and sticking a pin in it. Common sense should indicate that this is an illegal referral fee. Unfortunately, it is not. It is only the professions that are covered by the legislation governing referral fees and so the likes of Eddie Stobart’s can rum riot with the unsuspecting public and here they come.
This is NOT a joke:
Eddie Stobbart Cab
The fact that Eddie Stobart’s can get away with this has got to raise the question as whether our regulator is fulfilling it’s statutory duty imposed under Section 1 of the Legal Services Act 2007 namely:
protecting and promoting the public interest;
protecting and promoting the interests of consumers;
We will do everything in our power to stop this insidious practice. However in the meantime, the excellent Sarah Vine suggested to the meeting on Saturday that all those who are registered could write to the BSB asking them to indicate in the register that they will not accept direct access work from an intermediary who is charging the public for the referral. If our regulator cannot act in the public interest and the interest of the consumer, we can. I for one will be doing exactly that on Monday. I urge all of you to do the same.
6. Final Proof that QASA is linked to PCT.
My sources tell me (not Mr Grayling because he refuses to converse) that Mr Grayling has asked the Bar Council and Law Society to come up with a Quality Assurance scheme that is acceptable. Why, you may ask? So that he can introduce PCT. Game set and match, I say to the good Baroness and Patricia Robertson QC.
7. Mr Grayling shows contempt for the consumer and confirms the consultation is a sham.
In an article coming out today in the Law Society Gazette but revealed in today’s Times HERE: Chris Grayling poured scorn on the consumers of legal services and confirmed that no one in the MOJ has a single intention of taking the consultation seriously. Mr Grayling clearly does not understand the game that must be played if you are to get away with holding a sham consultation. You can not tell anyone it is Mr Grayling or the Courts will kick your consultation into touch. Woops! Might be worth consulting a lawyer before you try and stick the boot in Mr Grayling.
8. How rising Practicing Certificate fees can kill the professions
The solicitor’s profession is being driven out of business by the absurd cost of so called “light touch regulation”. It is frankly absurd that both professions are in a situation where our self-funded regulators can grow ever fatter off the professions eventually killing them off altogether.
9. Lord Thomas of Gressford hits out in the Lords
The excellent Lord Thomas of Gressford (not to be confused with Sir John Thomas LJ) put in a terrific attack on the madness of the consultation HERE:
10. Early Day Motion is gaining currency
Early day motion No 36 is beginning to fly HERE:
11. Serco comes good again
Serco has really upped their game in their efforts to secure the title of “worst provider of the year”
The Inspectorate of Prisons has castigated their privately run Thameside establishment HERE:
I can not resist giving you a little snippet from the summary in the report
“Thameside is a local prison that is privately run (by Serco) and located next to Belmarsh and
Isis prisons in South East London. Holding up to 900 adult and young adult male prisoners,
this new establishment had opened in March 2012.
Information we received about Thameside suggested a need to bring forward our first
inspection of this establishment and, as a consequence, we inspected the prison when it had
been open for just 9 months. Our findings overall were very mixed and improvement was
required for most aspects of the prison – in particular, safety, the provision of purposeful
activity and meeting the resettlement needs of prisoners.”
They are under investigation for seriously overcharging the Government in respect of their tagging contract HERE
Now they are having to get Price Waterhouse to investigate. When are our politicians going to realise that predatory capitalists such as these are not value for money?
12. Sir Alan Beith changes his mind
Sir Alan Beith, having said he would not enquire into the PCT consultation until it had run it’s course, has had a change of heart. The Justice Select Committee will take evidence in advance of the end of the Consultation and will invite the CBA to give evidence. There are at least some politicians who are prepared to listen and have a change of heart if they conclude that it is appropriate to do so.
13. MOJ Roadshows; A experience not to be missed, where you can catch the next one and how to book.
The ineptitude of displayed at the MOJ Roadshows is a joy to behold. The Bar has done a brilliant job at turning up and exposing the ineptitude of the architects of this scheme. Here are the next Road Shows and how to register
The following events scheduled:
- 21st May: London (tbc)
- 23rd May: North (tbc)
- 24th May: PSC Newbold Revel (near Rugby)
14. Our own Sir Anthony Hooper comes out fighting
Sir Anthony Hooper, one of the most respected LJ’s of recent years, has added his considerable voice to the fight to save our democracy in the Sunday Express HERE
15. Unity within the professions: Justice for Sale: A protest beforehand.
SAVE LEGAL AID
JUSTICE FOR SALE
Wednesday 22nd May 2013
10:30am, Old Palace Yard, SW1
Speakers include: Clive Stafford Smith, Gerry Conlan (Guildford 4), Family Member of Jean Charles De Menezes, Dave Rowntree & Breda Power (daughter of Billy Power of Birmingham 6)
Followed by mass rally at Friends Meeting House, Euston @ 1.30pm
Protest against the MoJ’s plans to introduce price competitive tendering for criminal legal aid work. Protect your clients’ right to have a solicitor of their choice. Stop these plans for justice on the cheap which will have devastating consequences. Make your voice heard!
This is a legitimate protest with brilliant speakers. I would urge all who are not in Court on Wednesday to attend.
16. What’s in the Press?
Other pieces from the Press. Support is gathering.
We’re all Trucked….
QASA, BVY and POAS for non-Lawyers (or how Chris Grayling brutally did in legal aid Criminal Work with some Alphabet Spaghetti Acronyms)
Undermine Legal Aid and you put our entire justice system at risk
By Rupert Myers
Do Right Fear No One
Michael Turner QCView more news