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Monday Message 29.09.14

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC

Monday 29 September 2014

E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693 

Back room deals!
I was an active socialist in the 70s and for at least part of the 80s. I have  considerable experience of smoke-filled rooms. So far as I am aware contrary to rumour, unless I have suddenly received the gift of time travel I was not in Manchester at all (save to collect a huge amount of late disclosure at 7.30 am on Thursday) during the Labour Party conference this week-happily I was in Proud Preston. Thus the Tweeted suggestion that I was at it again doing deals this time with Labour is well off the mark.  I was though sad to hear that the party that created the Legal Aid system gave no indication that they will reverse the cuts imposed last year if elected.  
Sadiq Khan’s speech that, “We won’t stand by while you block access to justice for the vulnerable.  And we won’t walk away from the European Convention on Human Rights.” and  “They [Conservatives] want to strip people of their rights and make our justice system the preserve of the rich. Tories rubbing their hands at the prospect of governments free to ride roughshod over the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable” sounds fine in principle but the silence on fees was deafening.
Although I didn’t get the opportunity to meet with Labour last week I will though be prepared to meet anyone who believes in the importance of the Independent Bar.
On the 19th September Solicitors succeeded (at least in part) in their action against government.  Many members of the CBA supported their cause; their action characterized the importance of the ability of us all to challenge Government. Their  case encapsulating  the merits of our system. Brilliant Solicitors and Barristers working together in partnership; each bringing to the relationship unique qualities born of talent and training.
I have already spoken to the leaders of the Solicitor profession prior to my term commencing and now is the time to meet again, to listen to each other and move forward. I look forward to a new and healthy working relationship. Despite what some may say I understand how important  and vital it is for us all, that those firms who are our customers continue to exist, providing as they do access to justice for the citizens of this country.
The result of the action means that the Government has had to begin a new consultation process arising out of those proceedings. â€¨ The CBA will be responding formally but please ensure you respond individually as soon as possible. 

Responses should be email to [email protected] by 15 October 2014. I am aware this period is ridiculously short and we are writing to the MOJ suggesting an extension.
May I thank you for the email that I have received on topics various. Tuesday evening brings our first Exec of the new year when all these issues shall be dealt with.
So far as EPE is concerned matters are moving on and on the 7th October. Ra Healy, Mark Fenhalls and Simon Csoka are due to meet officials. As you will imagine we are going to ensure so far as we are able to determine this issue once and for all and as soon as possible.
Two other issues have arisen which are greatly concerning you. Many of you are concerned about the standard or paucity of catering facilities for public and the professions at our Crown Courts- so what you may say- let them go to Costa. Sadly such a view is shortsighted and simply unamusing. The running down of services to the public is symptomatic of the myopia of the administration. There is a serious side to all this: the needs of jurors, witnesses, complainants and their families in sensitive cases, defendants and their families/ witnesses and the needs of legal professionals are no less if not more important than catering for the Judiciary. 

We are going to try and deal with this in whatever way we can. Please feel free to write to me with your complaints.
Secondly. The PDS. At a time when we are all said to have to be tightening our belts questions arise about the PDS. Some of you have been asking about their productivity and their terms of engagement-it is always dangerous to rely on tittle-tattle but if there is any substance to the tales that reach my ears then serious action will have to be taken. In the first instance though I propose to seek an urgent face-to-face meeting with David Aubrey QC, who holds the title of ‘Head of Advocacy”.
No MM of mine would be complete without either a reference to the Clarets or to a request to respond to the Consultation. Both need support. Please do so by either getting a ticket for Turf Moor or rather more importantly responding urgently to the Rivlin consultation here. This is your opportunity to have your say, to get your personal view across.
Finally thank you to Mark Fenhalls and Jaime Hamilton who delivered MMs in my absence. I hope you appreciated both. We at the CBA are a broad church. Long may that continue.

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