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Monday Message 23.12.13

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Nigel Lithman QC

Monday Message 23 December 2013


Personal Email: [email protected]

See below for plans for the 6th January, but just before you get there, some stocking fillers:
“….the cuts to legal aid and the way they are being implemented are set to take their place in the great pantheon of government failures…they will damage the administration of justice, the rule of law and equality and diversity at the Bar.” (Baroness Deech, Chair, Bar Standards Board)
“It is beyond argument that criminal barristers are, for the most part, very moderately paid…… There is no doubt that the criminal Bar is a profession in crisis” and “I fear that the fat has been so far removed from the carcass of criminal legal aid that these further cuts really threaten our justice system” (Lord Faulks, new Minister of State in the House of Lords, Ministry of Justice)
 “ …concerns remain about the shortage of members of Bar doing legal aid work.. and about the fees currently proposed to remunerate them”; “Is the Lord Chancellor prepared to look open endedly at that fee regime to ensure that we have good lawyers who are able to represent people on legal aid in the future?” (Simon Hughes MP, new Minister of State in the House of Commons, Ministry of Justice)
This week I’ve received further reports about the LAA trying to turn VHCC cases into Graduated Fee Cases, “just like that” with all the finesse of Tommy Cooper (for those not of a certain age, ludicrously funny big comic with a fez). Apart from the questionable economics – why would one be prepared to do the same highly complex work for a similar 30% lower payment just because it’s name has been changed? – the LAA must be aware that members of the Criminal Bar are not going to accept returns as a Grad fee case from a colleague who would not do it as a VHCC case.
“The fat cat spin has made us thin, we definitely won’t be clocking in”
See the most wonderful creation of two members of the Bar, by following the You Tube link HERE.
The earliest indications are the government will continue to try and distract the public to look at 20 barristers fees in the hope they won’t notice the 5000 others. It really is very unsavoury.
Meanwhile without encouragement from me the overwhelming bulk of the Criminal Bar has said it has had enough. We are united in our resolve and our desire to highlight concerns for the future of the criminal justice system if the Government does not change its’ course. We are looking forward to standing side by side with our solicitor colleagues and other professionals working within the justice system who express the same concerns.
Having ensured that you have followed the Protocol and considered the other messages delivered by the Lord Chief Justice and DPP in a moderate and fair fashion, the exchange I had with the BSB and the unsolicited response from an eminent non criminal silk who took umbrage. Read the exchange HERE.
Here Circuit by Circuit, devised by Circuit Leaders and the CBA are what is proposed if you wish to protest:
South Eastern Circuit.
Sarah Forshaw QC has issued guidance. Please assemble at the following Courts at 10.15.
London:                  Snaresbrook
                              Central Criminal Court
Norfolk /Suffolk:      Norwich
Cambs/Essex:        Chelmsford
Bedfordshire:          St Albans
Thames Valley:       Oxford
Surrey/Sussex:       Lewes
Kent:                       Maidstone

The Northern

Assemble at 10.00. Meetings will take place outside the following Courts; Manchester and Preston. The Liverpool meeting will take place at Harrignton St Chambers. The CBA message will be read at 10.30. Disperse at 11.00. 

The Midland
Assemble at 10.00 outside Birmingham Crown Court. The CBA message will be read at 10.30.  The members will move to St Phillips Chambers for a Circuit meeting.
The North Eastern
Assemble at 10.00 outside the following Crown Courts; Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Bradford, Hull and Leeds. The CBA message will be read at 10.30.
Assemble outside the following Crown Courts; Cardiff Crown Court, Swansea and Mold Crown Court at 10am. The message will read in Welsh and English at 10.30.
Western Circuit
Meetings have been arranged for the following cities; Bristol, Winchester & Exeter. Please meet at 10.30.
What do we want? Ultimately the government will have to agree to sit down with us, in a painstaking review of the system that guarantees fair and proper fees in exchange for the Rolls Royce service we provide. We don’t want to provide a “mini service” as the government says will suffice. We pride ourselves on excellence. But it comes at a price.
Anyway, put it out of your minds for a few days. Who knows, maybe at the bottom of our stocking we will find the £24million that Mr. Grayling has decided he needs. He may even remember that Serco have just repaid him £68 million plus VAT.
VHCC case finds no counsel, first FCA prosecution, at Southwark today
Grayling acts in a particular spiteful and nasty manner, all but cancelling Xmas for inmates:
Have a wonderful holiday.
Nigel Lithman QC


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