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Monday Message 27.05.13


  • Do right fear ( almost ) no one. – The Vice Chairman’s comment.
  • Justice is NOT for sale – the protest.
  • The meeting after the protest.
  • The Vice Chairman’s speech.
  • The resolutions agreed.
  • The Piranha circle.
  • Circuits in the North – active as ever.
  • Justice Questions in Parliament.
  • Mr. Grayling kicks back with some inaccurate observations.
  • The Justice Committee agrees to hear evidence.
  • What’s in the press? Commentary supporting the CBA’s stance.
  • Sign the e petition – 10 friends for justice.
  • The CBA congratulate Alistair Macdonald after his election as Vice Chairman and chairman elect thereafter.


1. Do right fear ( almost ) no one – (you haven’t met my wife). 

All agree that the events of this week were unique. In one voice lawyers sent the clearest message to the government that PCT was unacceptable. That fee cuts were unacceptable and so our regulators understand, QASA is unacceptable. 

Hundreds gathered outside parliament, standing in front of a coffin marked “RIP legal aid”. Sadiq Khan and Dame Helena Kennedy took up the call now universally acknowledged : Mr. Grayling is destroying legal aid. 

We then adjourned part heard to the Friends meeting House , Euston where every limb of the criminal legal profession was represented and spoke, whilst up to 1000 looked on. The atmosphere was electric. I am sure Mr. Grayling had a shock at such unity ondisplay. 

Other events of the week brought into sharp relief how central to a democracy is the justice system. 

The alleged perpetrators of the carnage in Woolwich were not killed but remain alive to go through a court systemdependant on the very best of our lawyers. Mr. Grayling’s World will not be able to cater for such trials to be conducted properly. 

Let’s keep up the pressure, we will defeat these proposals. 



Protest Outside Parliament: 22nd May 2013

There was a fantastic turnout for the protest outside Parliament. 

Owen Bowcott IN THE Guardian described it as follows:

Hundreds of lawyers demonstrated outside parliament yesterday over plans to cut £220m from the annual budget for criminal legal aid and remove defendants’ rights to choose their solicitor. Sadiq Khan MP, shadow justice secretary and a former solicitor, accused the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, of destroying legal aid. He said the Conservative minister’s “obsession with throwing red meat to Tory backbenchers and appearing on the front page of the Mail on Sunday” will undermine British justice. 

The Guardian, 23/05/2013, p.6 

Other newspapers carried reports as follows:
The Times

Comment piece from the Mirror (before the protest)


3. At the Meeting after the protest 

The events there are best described in this extract from the Law society Gazette : 

In an unprecedented show of unity by the legal profession hundreds of barristers and solicitors came together yesterday to oppose the government’s proposed criminal legal aid cuts which they said would ‘destroy the fabric of the criminal justice system’. 

Over 1,000 attended a London meeting dubbed ‘Justice For Sale’ organised by the Criminal Law Solicitors Association to oppose the planned £220m cuts to criminal legal aid, removal of client choice and introduction of price-competitive tendering (PCT). 

Former Court of Appeal judge Sir Anthony Hooper said:
‘These proposals by the inaptly named justice secretary are fundamentally flawed and must be rejected in whole.’ 

It rejected the proposed fee cuts and resolved that there should be ‘no further cuts to criminal legal aid until an immediate review is carried out on the impact of the cuts so far, the impact of the downturn in volume and consequent reduction in legal aid spend’. 

A further motion, not to co-operate with the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), was also unanimously passed. 

Opening the event, Kent solicitor Robin Murray said it was ‘not so much a meeting, more an insurrection – about not so much a consultation, more a declaration of war, on the right of the public to choose their solicitor’. 

Association chair Bill Waddington said that a real-terms fall of more than a third since 2006 in the criminal legal aid budget meant the profession had ‘nothing more to give’. But he said it was the removal of client choice where the profession ‘draws a line in the sand’. 

In coming together, Waddington said barristers and solicitors have ‘overcome our greatest weakness that has allowed us to be divided and conquered’ – something that he said the government’s consultation is designed to achieve. He said: ‘Let’s defend the criminal justice system and ourselves – we cannot and will not stand by and allow it to fail.’ 

Vice chair of the Criminal Bar Association Nigel Lithman QC said that in its proposals to eradicate 75% of solicitors’ firms and decimate the independent criminal bar, the government had ‘misjudged the profession’s response’ and ‘seriously underestimated the force of our united profession’. 

‘Bar and solicitors – we are united in opposition to the proposals that will destroy the fabric of the criminal justice system,’ said Lithman. 

Outlining the CBA’s response to the broad proposals, Lithman said it is: no to PCT, no to fee cuts and no to QASA. 

Lithman likened the plans to a ‘Victorian picture of Bedlam’. They will result in a ‘subcontracted public defender system devoid of choice for defendants without financial means and indifferent to quality’. 

But he said: ‘The juggernaut can be stopped if we all stand together.’ 

Former president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association Greg Powell accused the Ministry of Justice of ‘fundamental dishonesty’ and of possessing ‘the morality of a thief’ in the way it moved the goalposts over the amount of savings it seeks to make. 

On the reforms themselves, he said: ‘We are walking backwards in time,’ to a place where there is no choice, ‘cowboy’ prices, no competition, and stagnant business models. 

justice – it is something naked, something cruel and inhuman.’ 

He too was determined that by acting collectively the ‘fearless’ legal profession can defeat the proposals. 

He described the plans are a threat to the rule of law and a fundamental attack on the rights of citizens and of civilisation. 

The change, he said is ‘not acceptable to the profession or the public or to a future Labour government’. 

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson told the meeting the ‘unworkable’ plans would make the debacle over last years courtroom interpreter contract ‘look like a picnic’. 

He warned that the £37,500 eligibility threshold would lead to the court being clogged up with unrepresented defendants, victims of crime being cross examined by the alleged perpetrators and the Court of Appeal ‘bursting at the gunwales’ dealing with miscarriages of justice. legislation, Hudson said. The Law Society is also considering whether proposals are contrary to competition law, European procurement law ‘and any other damn thing you can think of’. 

Taken together, he suggested the reforms show that government ‘cares little for the rule of law’ because he said ‘there will be no rule of law without access to justice or without an independent viable legal profession’. 

‘We want an independent legal profession that is viable and we want the maximum number of our members to be able to work in that field,’ he said. But he warned that difficult and grave decisions may have to be made. 

In addition, he said: ‘I’d like to see an uncoordinated, unplanned, coincidental common decision made on the same day by every barrister in this country not to accept work from Stobart Barristers. And I’d like every solicitor-advocate to do the same.’ 

Co-chair of the Society of Asian Lawyers Jo Sidhu QC said the society has instructed a QC at Matrix Chambers to advise on a challenge over government’s failure to comply with the Equality Act. 

Sidhu warned of the impact that the proposals would have on the diversity of the profession and on small firms, which he said are ‘more economically efficient’. He warned: ‘Minority practitioners are likely to become the principal victims of the changes.’ 

Sir Anthony Hooper said it is a ‘complete scandal’ that the changes could be implemented by secondary legislation and urged supporters to sign the e-petition set up by Exeter solicitor Rachel Bentley. If it gets 100,000 signatures, it could prompt a parliamentary debate. 

Convention and the separation of powers dictates that judges are generally unwilling to speak out against government policy, but Hooper said: ‘Many judges are hugely concerned about these proposals, but it’s hugely difficult for the senior judiciary to speak out.’ 

Any judge who has spoken out against the proposals would have to disqualify themselves from hearing the cases. 


4. The Vice – Chairman’s speech

I have not seen or attended  a rally such as this in 37 years at the Bar.  There has not been one. Every person here came into the profession to serve the public . We will fight to survive and continue to serve the public. 

I’ve been given 15 minutes. I’m afraid I can’t even deal with  the burden of proof in that time, so please be patient. 

How wrong can this government be. 

They don’t seem to understand the havoc they are causing in the judicial system. Either that or they just don’t care. 

Equally they have misjudged the legal profession’s response to it. 

If their proposals had evolved gently over years there would have been a rolling debate. 

But when they propose steps that will eradicate 75 % of solicitors firms at one stroke and decimate the criminal bar and give us 8 weeks to respond to them, what do they think is going to happen. How much more clearly can they telegraph that this consultation period is a charade, their ill thought through proposals a fait accompli, that they are deaf to the views of the professions concerned? 

That said, if they gave us 8 weeks or 8 months to respond, which they might have done if they cared, or were remotely interested in our response, the answer would still be the same. They have seriously underestimated the force of our united profession. We speak as one profession – bar and solicitors – & are united in opposition to the proposals that will destroy the fabric of our criminal justice system. 

So let us start at the end. What is the Criminal Bar’s response to the 3 issues that it currently faces. The Criminal Bar Association is putting out its draft response to the government consultation paper. But I can summarise it : 

1. PCT, alternative business structures – No. 

2. More FEE Cuts. Our message is not 1penny more on top of the swinging cuts already made. . 

Additionally as you know on the issue of 

3. QASA – our own regulators suggestion – No. 

4. And we will never say yes to any of them. 

Then let us go beyond the end.  What should we beaiming to achieve? 

The two example corporate bodies, who have greedily and immediately tried to get their hands on the provision of legal services should be a PR dream to us. 

They show how the government regards the administration of justice and create a perfect analogy. 

Apparently legal services can be provided by a trucking company – Eddie Stobarts. Presumably they’ll put pictures of their barrister of the month inwig, gown but nothing else on the sides of their trucks. Looking at me , that thought might horrify.  A new justice provider. Eddie Stobarts. What is a justice provider ? what”s wrong with a lawyer ? 

And what about cases.? They suggest that the Co-op can provide legal services  And they can . “Pile them high, sell them cheap”. And 3 months after they’ve messed up your case , they’ll give you a funeral at cost. And you’ll get a dividend. Actually, whilst I can’t remember what I did yesterday, I can recall my Grandma’s Co –op divvy number. 

Defendants are tins of beans on the supermarket shelf, . No regard to client choice and no regard to the clients. 

That is their aim. This is OUR aim. This juggernaut can be stopped. If we all stand together. 

We can also use this opportunity to go on the offensive in two ways : 

1. Bar and solicitors are two sides of the same profession.. As such henceforth each should be interested and actively involved in the aspirations of the other. 

I would like to forge ever closer links between us. We are almost the heart of the Justice system. 

I say ALMOST as of course it is the public at the centre of the justice system. 

2. The justice system, like education and healthshould be cherished and must have money fed into it and whilst waste can be corrected and lead to savings , those savings must come back in to feed the system. 

AND lawyers working hard and operating with integrity and in the public interest are not waste. 

When in 15 years have lawyers heard the words “pay rises in line with inflation”. Why is the law the odd man out. ?  It should be acknowledged that those doing publicly funded work have seen nothing but cuts for years and this has got to change. 

It was being mooted that MPs would receive a pay rise this year of 

10% and the public will be asked to swallow that on the basis of changed pension schemes. 

What is a pension scheme ? – Barristers provide their own . 

Why is it that those enacting the law have had periodic pay rises and those advocating the law  do not. 

MP’s work long into the night on some occasions. Lawyers work long into the night on all occasions. 

Why are MP’s giving themselves a rise ?. Because they respect themselves and their right  to be rewarded for their efforts. Why aren’t criminal lawyers. There is no end to their insensitivity. 

The bar has been asking : Why have we taken until now to stand up to  be heard ? There is no good answer that does us credit. 

But now we have stood up, we will not be sat down or be muzzled. 

We must ask that the government of the day takes steps to acknowledge that a fair justice system that can give effect to the rule of law is at the heart of the democratic state. 

Lord Justice Gross, Senior Presiding Judge for England & Wales, recently said: 

‘An independent Bar guarantees the fearless representation of those who most need it; as with an independent judiciary, it is difficult to conceive of the survival of the Rule of Law, without an independent Bar.’ Lord Gross cares. This government does not, 

We know that Mr. Grayling our Minister of Justice ,  Lord Chancellor is not a lawyer. Why should he care ? It would seem that he does not care if the criminal bar or the majority of solicitors’ firms exist. He has no experience of them. He hopes he will never come into contact with them. 

But what of the attorney general? We were in chambers together at the same time .We had the same pupil master .He was able to rise to attorney general on the back of that pupilage and his practice at the independent criminal bar. Does he think that Stobarts will provide pupilages like we had.? We were taught to work all the hours the case took . Does he think someone working for one of these corporations for £30,000 a year will work beyond their 9-5 job.? 

Dominic Grieve and I saw in those chambers murderers being prosecuted or defended by the most able lawyers, always QC’s . Who will  prosecute these cases as standards are driven down ? Who is prosecuting them now ? 

Does the government think the public will not notice as more and more actual murderers and rapists fail to be convicted by a CPS unable to recruit able and motivated lawyers. The CPS already are not briefing the most able barristers to prosecute the most serious cases. 

A Judge in a murder trial in the Midlands within the last 6 months had to explain to the jury, what the law was in opening the case as the lawyer briefed by the CPS was incapable of doing so. The Judge ended up stopping the case. £10s of £000s were lost 

Does the government think that the public will not mind when murderers, rapists and paedophiles  are acquitted because of the same drop in standards. Do they not see the longer term impact on “law & order”? 

The comment from Mr. Grayling that will go down in infamy : 

‘I don’t believe that most people who find themselves in our criminal justice system are great connoisseurs of legal skills “ says Mr. Grayling. 

Does that include Chris Huhne , his team mate ? 

What about Jeffrey Archer, Jonathan Aitken ? can they tell a good brief from a dud ? 

I assume the Deputy Speaker if charged would be prepared to be represented by someone from the Co Op ? 

Or is Mr. Grayling simply showing the contempt that he holds for lawyers. 

I wonder if previous Lord Chancellors like Lord Halsbury, Lord Birkenhead, Lord Hailsham, Lord Dilhorne would be putting legal services in the hands of road haulage or were they glad to have able lawyers to help the legal system evolve. 

If Mr. Grayling were a lawyer he would know that Defendants and jurors , who also find themselves in the criminal justice system are nobody’s fools . If a lawyer has ever tried to pull the wool over a jury’s eyes , they have done so at their clients’ peril. I would have thought that as a politician he might know that voters do not like being patronized. 

But this government has done it with teachers why not lawyers? And in the same vein, why not logically contract the provision of medical services to the Co op next? Perhaps mobile GP units inside Eddie Stobart trucks? 

Mr. Grayling has said that people were not up to selecting their lawyer. 

He is clearly not remotely interested that Article 6 assures an individuals rights to be represented by someone of their own choosing. 

Lord Justice Hooper, a lawyer I believe, has pointed out that conflict of interest and lack of Defendant choice will bring this scheme to its deserved death. 

When he was a Recorder sitting at Chelmsford Crown Court, I would be invited to his room where he critiqued my performance to make me a better advocate and lawyer. Will that ever happen again ? 

Many come to the criminal bar in spite of accumulated debt and in the knowledge that they will face daunting competition. They undertake pupillages that offer no funding or very modest levels of income (few pay more than £12,000 per annum). A high proportion of young entrants have outstanding academic qualifications: many have exceptional personal qualities and a striking history of individual achievement. Almost of all of them could earn far more money in private practice as solicitors or at the commercial bar (where training contracts or pupillages offering £50,000 to £60,000 are available). 

Anyone who has been involved in the recruitment and training of young criminal barristers in recent years could not fail to be impressed by the quality andcommitment of the junior bar.  They come to the profession with a strong sense of social justice and a determination to use their abilities to assist the most vulnerable in society. This is not propaganda. It is the truth. 

In pupillage and as young members of chambers, they receive a form of practical training and experience that could not be replicated elsewhere. Advocacy is a notoriously difficult skill to learn – even for those with natural aptitude. It takes a lot of practice   before anyone can acquire   the subtle judgment and precise command of language that an effective advocateneeds. The conduct of a criminal trial is a considerable undertaking. Like the work of a specialist surgeon it can only   be learned on the job – and through the guidance of more experienced professionals. 

1. Any “Tom, Dick or Harriet” can do the job 

There is no acknowledgement of our training, years of investment, years of experience or the skills involved in the service we provide. There is an assumption that anyone can do this job, anyone no matter how poor an advocate will do. Why not let a nurse do the job of a doctor? Why not let a junior doctor do the job of a skilled surgeon? Obviously they lack the skills & competencies to do so  – then why is it assumed that any organisation or person can do what we do? And if they can’t do it themselves, they can engage at a low wage the inexperienced lawyers – or those that the current market reject as being less than competent – to deliver a cut price service. How will that serve the public interest? It may be that no one cares – until they or one of their loved ones is a victim of crime or charged with a crime – then who will they turn to for the best representation? 

There is no reference to any of this in thegovernment’s consultation paper: only selective and distorted emphasis of the incomes of a small fraction of criminal practitioners 

What these plans will achieve is a subcontracted public defender system devoid of choice for defendants without the financial means, indifferent to quality 

If this is not the intention then the plan needs to change. 

The majority of the independent criminal bar will collapse. The gross fee income levels that are bound to result from the proposals if implemented will make a career in the profession not just unattractive but no longer economically viable. The attorney general’s pupil master will be horrified. 

The likely level of annual fee turnover (before any expenses are deducted or pension contributions are taken into account) will be in the range of £35,000 – £45,000 for a reasonably busy junior practitioner. 

the government’s own figures state that currently 65% of criminal practitioners receive less than £50,000 in annual fee income. But that includes VAT . That will take it to £40,000 

What about that pension , no sick pay or holiday pay or maternity/paternity pay which comparable employed professionals now routinely receive. 

What of their business costs.? 

This will translate into a taxable income of £30,000. It would bear no comparison to a GP or Dentist or any other professional who has been required to study and train for a prolonged period and meet the academic standards we have. If this is the future it will transform the profession. As more and more barristers leave independent practice the burden on the remaining members of chambers will increase as overall turnover dramatically reduces 

However much chambers reduce overheads, perhaps increase in size and find new ways of working the numbers are not going to add up. Chambers will close. 

So with the elimination of the vast majority of solicitors offices and chambers they will have destroyed the criminal justice system. 

Why? Why have they done this? Short-sighted, only focused on the bottom line of “cuts” with no consideration of where it will lead 

What is the view of the Attorney? Will he speak up for us? 

And the Judges – will they make their concerns & disquiet public – as Tony Hooper has done? Where will the judges of the future come from? 

At present committed solicitors and barristers in private practice ensure that the criminal justice system works. Whether acting for the prosecution or the defence, barristers will work late into the night and throughout the weekend, undertake work for which there is no extra payment, often do work pro bono, regularly cancel holiday plans if cases overrun and miss important events in their children’s lives, because we are committed professionals performing an important public service. Following earlier cuts to the legal aid budget,  conferences are now free, the first two days in court are included in the fee for day 1. Barristers routinely make applications in the Court of Appeal for no reward. One only has to think of what is at stake for all concerned in a rape trial, or a murder trial with a life sentence in prospect. But the consequences for reputation, income and liberty arise in almost every trial a barrister conducts. The loss of liberty will often mean the loss of employment, separation from a young family, perhaps the end of a relationship, and it may result in the permanent loss of a home. The burden on both the prosecution and defence is great  . On many occasions it involves holding state officials to account, often very experienced police officers, or challenging expert evidence. The skills required need to be developed over many years. 

We all know the barristers that go to court for £46, or do 4 or 5 hearings for £203. 

The benefits of the current system will only be appreciated once they have gone. Good advocacy and sound judgment is most obvious when the opposite is on display. And there will be a high price to pay for its absence. 

Criminal lawyers need a fair living, the means to meet overheads & pay bills – & if that becomes impossible, if we are driven to work in other parts of the profession or to leave the profession altogether, where are the criminal lawyers of tomorrow going to come from? Or the judges for that matter? How will that serve the public interest? 

There is no acknowledgement of the depth of the cuts already imposed . 

In real terms, earnings have already been savagely cut. A large number are earning less than any electrician or plumber that comes to your house. Let there be an acknowledgement of those cuts & the hardships they have already brought to so many members of the profession. And any consultation should take that into account rather than conveniently ignoring it. 

?We don’t expect to be treated as a special case. But we should be treated fairly and honestly. I wonder how many people even within the profession, know that the spend on Crown Court representation (including barristers, solicitors, expert witnesses and interpreters) already fell from £721 million in 2011/12 to £602 million in 2012/13:  This is a massive reduction –  almost 17% – which has already happened. 

?I attended an MOJ event in Birmingham.. They have no understanding of the numbers.?? We must challenge the assertion that the overall budget has ‘dramatically increased’ over the past decade. It has in fact fallen. 

The cuts suggested are swingeing and impossible to accept. 30% on VHCC cases. The government has not disclosed they have radically fallen over the last 2 years. 17.5% on grad fees. What’s left ?

?These latest proposals really do mark a watershed. I do not see how the criminal bar can survive. This will impact just as much on the pool of talented independent prosecutors as defence practitioners. 

?The unreality of the proposals can be summed up with this gem from the government  ‘We believe that the levels of remuneration will remain comparatively high, both within the Bar and when compared to other publicly funded professions’ .Which professions do they have in mind? 

The impact of these cuts will make it uneconomic for criminal barristers to remain in chambers. Many will work from home or give up altogether. That will have a devastating effect on the number of pupillages available, already at an all time low. Currently 1700 students pass through Bar school, competing for 340 pupilages. With no training for the Bar available, the Bar will wither on the vine and die . 

Once the Bar has been dispersed, and the corporates move in as suppliers, those remaining at the Bar will be forced in-house. The Bar will then be trained within a corporate setting. The ethics and integrity of the independentprofession will disappear to be replaced by an interest only in a corporate philosophy. 

As with solicitors the new fee structure incentivises the guilty plea providing a source of conflict between the barrister and the best interests of their client. 

What has been devised is an image of a  Victorian painting of Bedlam. The government is bent on chaos . They don’t appear to respect us, but they would be wise not to underestimate us.


5. The resolutions agreed

At the meeting the followingresolutions were passed unanimously : 

  1. PCT is not the way forward and call on Gov to abandon PCT plans. 
  2. No further cuts to Crim LA until an immediate review is carried out on the cuts so far, and the impact on a dramatic turn down in volume, and the impact on LA spend. 
  3. Until such time as PCT is withdrawn we resolve not to bid. When PCT is withdrawn the profession will engage in a restructuring profession to identify savings and to maintain a viable legal profession. 
  4. The Profession will not co-op with QASA 
  5. The professions will individually institute a rolling series of training days, increasing in number and on days to be announced. 


6. The Piranha Circle

The  piranha have begun circling around the legal aid cow. 

This is the news well presented by Simon Duke. 

Serco tilts at legal aid bonanzaBy: Simon Duke 

Serco, the outsourcing giant, may bid for lucrative government contracts that could deprive defendants in criminal trials of the right to choose their own lawyers. Serco, which declined to comment, is among a welter of private companies eyeing the shake-up of legal aid. G4S, the security giant behind the Olympics staffing fiasco, has been rumoured to be weighing a bid, although the company said it was “not considering this at present”. Eddie Stobart, the haulage firm, last month declared that it would bid for the lucrative work if the government pressed ahead with the proposals. 

The Sunday Times Business, 26/05/2013, p.2 


7. Circuits in the North Active as Ever

DOZENS of North-East lawyers travelled to London on Wednesday to take part in a day of action against changes to the legal aid system. 

Meanwhile in Manchester a march was organised by Defend Justice, the campaign group for people who have been falsely prosecuted for being involved in political activism and made victims of corruption in the criminal justice system. But it was joined by between 200 and 300 lawyers who represent defendants under the legal aid system. The march went from Manchester Crown Court to the Palace Hotel, where civil servants from the Ministry of Justice were holding a ‘consultation meeting’ for people who work in legal aid.” 

The civil servants were subjected to nearly two hours of questioning, largely by people who are well practised in cross examining witnesses. They began to look worried; very worried. They hadn’t prepared good answers, even though they must have heard some of the questions from others; they had already held five consultation meetings in other towns. Some of their answers were so clearly untruthful that they were heckled. Finally, somebody asked the question: “Where are the Ministers? Why hasn’t Chris Grayling attended any of these meetings?” The answer to that was: “Since these are policy meetings and not political meetings, the Minister doesn’t need to attend.” Two hundred lawyers burst into cynical laughter.


8. Justice Questions in Parliament

Last Tuesday saw Justice Questions in Parliament. Special mention goes to Robert Flello MP, Andy McDonald MP, Andy Slaughter MP and – as ever – Karl Turner MP – for pressing the Justice Secretary on the legal aid proposals. Mr Turner asked the Justice Secretary if he would now sit down with the Chairman of the CBA and discuss how to get out of this mess. Mr Grayling responded by…. avoiding the question and answering a different question instead, stating “no change is simply not an option”. Mr Grayling’s new tune appears to be that the new system must deliver “an effective balance between proper justice and something that is affordable to the taxpayer”.  Someone needs to explain to the Hon. Lord Chancellor that ‘proper’ justice either is, or isn’t – there is no halfway house. 

The full transcript of the questions can be found here


9. Mr. Grayling kicks back with moreinaccurate observations

Writing in The  Sunday Express. 

Some quotes : 

“…solicitor firms (will be) cut from 1,500 to 400… I understand that some lawyers might be worried about how this might effect them..the changes we’ve proposed won”t affect people getting a fair trial and they won”t destroy the  criminal bar …” p.2 

Meanwhile at p.37 

“ Professional expertise and high quality solicitors and barristers will still be available , just as they are now( How can they be ? )” 

“ We in fact have the best lawyers in the world in the UK and I believe the profession to be tremendously important. “ 

SOME lawyers will be worried ? – All lawyers are worried. 

WON’T destroy the criminal bar ? yes it will. 

Professional expertise STILL available ? No it won’t 

The CBA, the Circuits , the solicitors and the Bar Council must continue to respond effectively to such illogical nonsense that simply pulls the wool over people’s eyes.


10. Justice Committee agrees to hear evidence

The Justice Committee have decided to hear evidence on 11th June 2013 about the proposals. 

Evidence will be taken from across the legal profession; invitees include representatives from the CBA, the CLSA, LCCSA, the Bar Council and the SRA. The Committee will then decide if further written or oral evidence is necessary: CLICK HERE


11. What’s in the Press? Other pieces from the Press

Catholic church says legal aid cuts will harm human trafficking victims. 

Letter sent to justice secretary by senior Catholic officials warns that residency test for legal aid will harm vulnerable people 

Helen O’Brien, chief executive of Caritas Social Action Network: 

“These proposals are deeply concerning and if they go ahead in their current form we have real concerns that vulnerable individuals, including overseas residents trapped in relationships with violent partners and victims of human trafficking, could be left unable to access any legal representation. 



“Human trafficking and domestic abuse are truly horrific crimes. We have genuine concerns that any restriction of legal aid in such cases may mean that these abuses will go unreported and that perpetrators of these crimes will not be brought to justice.” 

Meanwhile the last of the MOJ’s unhelpful roadshows was held this week. The general consensus has been that the MOJ apparatchiks knew little or nothing more than the terms of the consultation and had no answers to questions about where the figures were from. There was a rumour that they struggled to speak Welsh at the roadshows in Wales. However, even in spite of the lack of answers, it seems from this article in the Express that the MOJ remain firmly committed to the plan. CLICK HERE


12. Sign the e petition now. – 10 Friends for justice

The e-petition against the MOJ proposals is currently at 60K+ 

We say sign it and then send it to 10 friends and see if they would wish to sign it.


13. Finally – Congrats to Alistair

The CBA sends its congratulations to Alistair Macdonald on becoming Vice Chairman of the CBA. 

Unity is our secret weapon CLICK HERE

Submitted by Nigel Ford on Thu, 23/05/2013 – 13:56. 

At last we stand together as a united profession. I was at the meeting and the passion felt by those in attendance was palpable. We must not let the momentum stall in fact it must be increased.. Des Hudson’s comments were indeed more encouraging but contrast that with his comments in the gazette 20/05 ” We understand cuts must be made”.. No we don’t , we have been cut and cut until we are but bones. No PCT, no more cuts , No QASA. Enough is enough! 

We must keep up the momentum….CLICK HERE

Submitted by Andrew Vanzie on Thu, 23/05/2013 – 14:05. 

Firstly may I say how proud I am to be a Criminal Defence Lawyer right now, the profession as a whole for the first time in a long time is singing from the same hymn sheet. 

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