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Weekly Round Up 18.01.13

CBA Chairman’s Update: Michael Turner QC


We must act now and we must act above all with a unified purpose and approach


If there is one sentence in this important message I would ask you to remember it is this:




These two initiatives combined will lead to the destruction of the independent Bar and they are fundamental issues that will dominate future Friday emails.


If anyone still thought that QASA was concerned with the quality of advocacy, notwithstanding the inclusion of plea only advocates and the effective abolition of silks, read the latest plans of the Home Secretary, Theresa May HERE


The press release, from late last year signals a return to the days that only those of us of a certain age remember. The Plan: to allow police officers to prosecute up to half of all cases in the Magistrates Court.


Now you may have been thinking, we have the BSB, overseen by the LSB, which costs the Bar over £6 million per year. They insist on putting in place regulations to guarantee the quality of advocacy throughout the courts and yet now we hear that unqualified police officers will take over half the prosecutions.

It supports the contention that QASA is nothing more than window dressing to make way for OCOF and at what cost?


The cry as ever from this Government is that it will be cheaper for the tax payer. Will it? Modern day politicians would be assisted by lessons learned in the past. The creation of the Crown Prosecution Service was brought about for important public policy reasons. There were then and continue to be real dangers in handing the prosecution of cases to legally unqualified police officers. Why were they stopped from prosecuting in the first place? So the proposal is to return to a system we learnt all those years ago did not work. In doing so undermining the CPS by introducing a two tier system in the Magistrates Court, only to discover in a few years hence that it doesn’t work and there is a need to replace that which you took apart. It beggars belief that such a course is contemplated. But of course this is this Government simply doing to Labour what it accused Labour of doing to them. The game is to produce a short term saving in your parliament, which will cost the next government a fortune to repair, when you know that the next government will not be you. The only loser in this game is the public, victim and tax payer.


It would take the most myopic barrister not now to see what is coming. If you are still in the dark have a look at this day, which is being put on by the Westminster Forum (a supposed forward thinking and influential think tank) HERE.


In recent times the judiciary have been all too slow to speak out; it may be that times are changing in this regard if this speech by Lord Justice Gross is anything to go by HERE.


It is all very well you pointing out the obvious. What are we going to do about it I hear you ask?


Whatever we do we have to be united. United we stand, divided we fall.


There will be many who say we should not sign up to QASA at all. How can we sign up to a system that all stake holders, including the BSB and the Bar Council recognise is not in the public interest.


Others are fearful that any such action will bring about the loss of their practicing certificates and liability for a criminal offence if they continue to practice. It is a crucial decision practitioners individually will have to make. Meetings have been called on all Circuits to discuss these crucial issues and determine the nature and extent of any action.  It is imperative that we are informed and guided by our membership. Too often in the past, have the voices of the membership have been ignored. These meetings will culminate in a Criminal Bar EGM in April (for which there has been overwhelming support).


The public do not yet realise that they are being conned. We do. We fight fearlessly for our clients whether we are appearing for the prosecution or defence. It is time we did the same for the public. We cannot wait for what many fear will be a sham consultation process to appear on OCOF, as it will be too late by then.


We must act now and we must act above all with a unified purpose and approach.

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