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Monday Message 30.01.17

Chairman’s Update: 
Francis FitzGibbon QC

As people read and discuss the consultation, different views are emerging. I think everyone agrees at least that the redistribution of a pot that was too small to begin with cannot satisfy everybody. Hence, as I said before, the welcome must be a cautious one.
There will be a panel session on Wednesday 15th February at 18.00 pm at the BPP Law School, Red Lion Street, London WC1R 4NY, for members to discuss the proposed new scheme, in order to help the CBA formulate its response to the consultation. Whatever your views of the scheme, please confirm your attendance by emailing the CBA administrator.
Future CBA Executive Committee Meetings 
22 February, 17.30   Lincoln House, Manchester
23 March, 17.30       No5 Chambers, Birmingham
26 April, 17.30         Trinity Chambers, Newcastle
CBA Business
Chris Henley QC has been re-elected as Treasurer and Emma Fenn has been elected as Assistant Secretary, nem. con. Sarah Vine has been appointed as Director of Wellbeing. Michael Duck QC is stepping down as International Director, and we thank him for his service. Rebecca Trowler QC will now take up the position. The following members have been co-opted on to the Executive Committee: Dan Oscroft, of No 5 Chambers; Flora Page, of 23 Essex Street; and Daniella Manson, of 25 Bedford Row.
The election for the Executive Committee is now open.
Laptops in High Security Prisons
In the light of concerns about restrictions on the use of laptops by legal representatives, NOMS has issued new guidance, which can be summarised as follows:

  • No blanket ban
  • Restrictions to be applied on a case-by-case basis only, proportionately, and based on information about individuals or firms.
  • The basis of any restriction must be justified concerns about the personnel, not the nature of the equipment.
  • If such concerns are at a low level, the representatives in question should be alerted, and a warning should be given before a restriction is imposed.
  • More serious concerns, or failure to remedy those that have been notified, may result in tamper-proof seals being used to block USB ports and cameras.
  • Banning individuals should be the last resort, in the most serious cases where corruption or dishonesty are suspected

Magistrates Court Sentence Guidelines
The Sentencing Council has issued new guidelines for 27 summary offences. They come into effect for adults who are sentenced on or after 24 April 2017, regardless of the date of the offence. Speeding fines are up, sentences for cruelty to animals are up, especially for attacks on police dogs and horses. Remember this chap?

Payment in the Court of Appeal
The Ministry of Justice is developing a new online-only payment system for all fee claims.  It includes claims for payments for appearances in the Court of  Appeal  (Criminal Division). It aims to allow legal representatives to receive payments electronically, reducing the time between the assessment of a claim and payment.  As from 3 February 2017, legal representatives will have to give:

  1. Their supplier number
  2. Invoice / case reference number
  3. Postcode
  4. VAT number 

They have not yet produced on-line template claim forms, but I’m told they are on the way. 

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