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Monday Message 20.10.14

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC 

Monday 20 October 2014

E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693 

“The job’s the very spit o’ what it always were,
It’s bread and bacon mostly when the dog don’t catch a ‘are;
But lookin’ at it broad, an’ while it ain’t no merchant king’s,
What’s lost upon the roundabouts we pulls up on the swings!”
Never ever try and explain the graduated fee scheme to anyone outside the law. Never ever. It has its swings and roundabouts. Over the years the roundabouts have increased in number; the swings all but disappeared and those that remain are chained up with a robust lock only to be opened on the rarest of occasions.
Last week the LAA agency published a draft protocol on electronic evidence. I read it with great sadness. Its content seemed to be diametrically opposed to the spirit of rapprochement that has existed since the dispute with Government ended.  In my view and the view of the officers and executive of the CBA the scheme is wholly unacceptable. We are supported by Rem Com. The LAA seem to be inventing their own version of the graduated fee scheme and taking out of it, evidence served electronically. I have warned in my earlier MMs that this issue was reaching crisis point. Simon Csoka QC leading a team of Emma Nash, Tom Schofield, David Wood, Nick Worsley and James Vine has drafted our response. I hope that the LAA will see how reasonable we are in our submissions. I am sure that no one wants conflict. No one wants to return to the situation of earlier this year when docks were empty and Courts were closed.
The Lord Chief Justice and the Kalisher Lecture
It was a very great privilege and honour to first introduce the LCJ to a packed Old Bailey Bar mess last week when the Lord Chief delivered the CBA Kalisher lecture. His topic was forensic science. I hope he will forgive me for failing to set out in more detail that which he had to say, space will not permit it – the ratio though was clear- our system of justice will suffer if the courts cannot rely upon true excellence in scientific evidence.  Many at the coalface have a continual struggle to secure funding for even the most basic scientific report. Increasingly experts complain of the level of funding or worse still non-payment. If this area fails due to lack of funding then justice is denied. Make no mistake though our senior judiciary are very alive to the difficulties that you face in engaging the services of a competent expert. 
The Victim’s Commissioner – Baroness Newlove
The following day I spent a hugely enjoyable two hours with Baroness Newlove, the Victim’s Commissioner. As you know the role of the Victims’ Commissioner is to promote the interests of victims and witnesses and encourage good practice in their treatment. It is of vital importance to the Commissioner to understand the criminal justice system particularly from a victim’s point of view. It seemed to me that the Baroness should understand that we at the CBA are anxious to ensure that the brightest, the best and the best trained should be doing the cases to ensure that interests of justice are best served. I have no doubt that when the Bar can compete on a level playing field with HCAs and in-house prosecutors at the CPS then the public will get not what they are given but what they deserve-the best.

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