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Monday Message – 30.03.15

CBA Chairman’s Message:
Tony Cross QC 

Monday 30 March 2015


E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693 

The Solicitor’s JR
As I write this piece on Sunday morning, solicitor friends of mine and yours throughout the land will be making their way to their offices. They will be going to specially convened partners’ meetings to decide what they should do in the light of the decision of the Court of Appeal to reject the Societies’ appeal on the Duty Provider Work contracts appeal. See Judgement HERE.

I imagine that you, like me, will be instructed by solicitors who believe in the Bar; who instruct the Bar because they know that we provide the best advocates for their clients; by those who turn out proper instructions and attend on their clients throughout trials.  These are our friends.  They believe in justice.  We work for and in partnership with them.  Our Criminal Justice System works best with solicitors who care about justice, working in partnership with the independent bar.

I consider it essential that the CBA has  a clear strategy as to how to proceed over the next few months.  We all should recognise that the issue of two-tier contracts was live and relevant at the time that 2/3 of our members voted in favour of the deal on 9th April 2014.  Nor should we forget that the savage threatened cuts have not been implemented for our members because of our successful strategies.  This does not mean that action cannot be re-instituted should it be necessary and desired by the membership, but it does mean that we need to tread carefully, consulting our members and working alongside the solicitors themselves.

I have never believed that we could take direct action on behalf of solicitors without their complete support.  It is for them to organise themselves, to be clear in what it is they want to achieve; to demonstrate their support.  We cannot take direct action alone.

The general election looms.  If a new government is elected, then the landscape will change.  We have the assurance of Sadiq Khan that Labour will not introduce two tier contracts.  We can assume under a conservative majority led government, the plans will go ahead.  Thus the fight as to two tier being introduced or not, will take place under the new government.

I do not presume to know what the majority of our members current views are. What then is to happen?  This week the officers of the CBA will convene to begin to settle our strategy for the coming weeks and months.  Over the next two weeks your Chambers delegates will be consulting their members so that I, the officers and the Executive of the CBA will better understand the lengths to which the Bar are prepared to go to deal with this issue.  I shall also be writing to you individually and asking you to write to me to let me understand your particular viewpoint.

The Executive next meets on the 15th April.  By then we should understand the feelings of the membership.  In the interim we shall support our solicitor colleagues in their action and we will use our endeavours to ensure that access to justice remains at the top of the political agenda.  We shall also continue to talk to the CLSA and the LCCSA as to how we might assist.
This will be the last Message before Easter.  I wish you and all your loved ones Pax.

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