‘Monday’ Message 31.07.19
Vice Chair’s Update:
Caroline Goodwin QC
WE CAN SHAPE OUR OWN DESTINY:
This week’s message is short and to the point.
The review work for both CPS work and AGFS is now well underway and as practitioners we have an opportunity to ensure that the future of the criminal bar is sustainable. We know that we have asked before and we will ask you again; please make sure you attend as many of the meetings which have been arranged as possible. We all know that it is time consuming, particularly after the end of a hard day in court and this will inevitably bite into what little down time there is before the work of the evening commences whereby you are preparing for the following day. Ours is a relentless job, with attention to detail being paramount. It does not happen by magic. It is for those reasons that engagement now will ensure that we can achieve better rates of remuneration and of course a better understanding as to what we have to do, to keep, in many cases “the show on the road”
We had some fantastic responses by email last week to the issues that surround the way in which the soon to be old “scheme C” operates. We repeat our thanks and have been feeding those concerns into discussions with our policy team who are engaging with the CPS. It is vital that you keep us informed.
Keep us posted with any further examples of ludicrous and outrageous practices on fees. Your concerns are our concerns.
CPS MEETINGS UPDATE:
For those who have attended the feedback has been good – thank you. I myself attended the meeting that was held in Leeds last night, 30th July There was a very robust dialogue with many ideas being discussed. Many thanks to Jean Ashton and her team. A request was made that the power point that was utilised was shared, so that practitioners could give greater consideration to the questions that the CPS had posed. One of those questions relates to the definition of the start of trial. The link to the power point is here. Please review it, especially those who have not been able to attend any of the meetings. Again, please email in any views you have as to those questions and we can share that with the CPS. The email again is listed below.
We understand that the CPS are seeking to build on the proposals which come out of these initial meetings and would like to hold a further round of focus groups in September. The dates are to be confirmed and as soon as we know more we will inform you.
CHECK THE GUIDANCE –
THE MOG – CPS:
A few emails raised the issue of lack of payment for bodycam footage and CCTV footage. Please check the following paragraphs:
- Para 44 – this identifies that which is excluded
- Para 74 – identifies what can be recovered.
If you have a case with bodycam footage or CCTV, keep a log of your time and submit your claim. Your diligence will ensure you are remunerated for that which you are properly entitled to.
THE THREE ACCELERATED ASKS:
The three accelerated asks are unused material, cracked trials and high page count cases. We are hard at it re the detail and in fact Monday afternoon, 29th July, we had a positive meeting with the MOJ team. Our views are well known but we have to help them build the case to treasury. There is no doubt the bar is engaging and will continue to engage. The thorny issue of unused material has presented a number of practical issues. There is a staged process to this, for which your cooperation and insight into how a case really works when defending and how you consider unused material operates. It is extraordinary to think that this aspect has long gone unremunerated when it so often holds the answers to many unfounded allegations, hence its enormous importance.
QUESTIONNAIRE AND AGFS MEETINGS:
In due course you will receive a questionnaire sent on behalf of MOJ. Please, when it arrives, complete it. This will be designed to elicit from you the approach taken to unused and of course other issues.
Thereafter, the MOJ will wish to conduct workshops and focus groups. We do not have the dates as yet. This is because there is a real incentive to ensure that the questions asked of us will yield the data needed to build the case to Treasury.
The MOJ are keen to engage with us. Below is a request from MOJ and we are happy to place this in the body of the MM:
“As part of the Criminal Legal Aid Review, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is holding a series of focus groups over the summer targeting criminal defence lawyers across England and Wales. The MoJ wants to hear your perspectives and experiences, understand your views on how well legal aid fees cover work done, the sustainability of the payment metrics/proxies currently used, as well as general views and comments on criminal legal aid as a front-line practitioner.
This is an important opportunity to engage directly with the MoJ and make your perspectives heard. Please forward this to other colleagues who may be interested in sharing their views.”
As soon as we have those dates, we will notify you.
AGFS AND CBA:
Yes, we know timescales are tight and so as to ensure that we have as much information as possible, we are inviting you to email us with your AGFS concerns and solutions. We have already a policy approach, but we need all further information. We can only rid ourselves of the abject unfairness in the scheme if i) we know about it and of course ii) when, NOT IF, more money is invested in the scheme.
One area that we have been alerted to, is the time when bills can be submitted, pending an adjournment of many months for sentence. Let us know.
DOES THE CBA DO ANYTHING ELSE ……..?
Yes, it does. We are looking at issues in the youth courts, magistrates court fees, criminal listing and warned lists. In addition, a huge concern is that which relates to the numbers of individuals released under investigation and of course the declining sitting days. We have the S41 report and the issues identified there from Laura Hoyano and so many more truly important matters that effect the bar and criminal justice. The work goes on.
Chris is still away so no poetry, sorry, but
As it’s the summer and the weather is so unpredictable here are two very different films;
Firstly: The Tin Drum; Palme D’or winner and Oscar winner, best foreign language film….it is to say the least profane.
Secondly: Cape Fear, the remake with Robert de Niro at his frightening best. Watch it without putting your hands over your eyes.
Again, thank you for your continued commitment to your profession.
Caroline Goodwin QC