The recent legal aid (2nd) consultation (Transforming legal aid: next steps) has ended and the response from the Ministry of Justice is awaited. Some of the contributions to the consultation are collated on my earlier post.
Maura McGowan QC addressed the Annual Bar Conference last Saturday - Still much to fight for and it's worth the fight. The Bar must ‘jealously guard and preserve’ its values of ‘integrity, excellence and independence’ said Maura McGowan QC to a packed Annual Bar Conference on Saturday. Delivering a defiant keynote speech, the Chairman of the Bar Council criticised the ‘contemptuous disregard’ with which the publicly-funded Bar is held by the Lord Chancellor
Whilst relieved that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has abandoned its plans to introduce Price Competitive Tendering (PCT) into criminal legal aid, McGowan warned the conference: ‘But the MoJ cannot go on pretending that there will be no damage to the public good by the cuts it has, and continues, to make. Nor that the profession will survive these cuts undamaged.’
See also Halsbury's Law Exchange - Defence Lawyers condemn planned cuts to criminal legal aid
Civil legal aid - what remains in scope?
As for what remains within the scope of civil legal aid, see the poster produced by the Legal Aid Practitioner's Group
Lord Chief Justice ~ Speech to the Bar Conference:
The Lord Chief Justice's speech to the Bar Conference may be read here - Lord Thomas commenced: 'I have no doubt that many who have delivered this address have emphasised the essential attributes of advocacy. They can be summarised in two words: quality and independence. I make no apology for returning to these two attributes.'
Elkan Abrahamson - Fighting for justice:
One lawyer who has spent his professional career fighting for justice is solicitor Elkan Abrahamson. The Law Society Gazette 4th November published an article about his remarkable career. Abrahamson is the Gazette's lawyer of the year: a well deserved accolade. Abrahamson’s caseload over the last 30 years seems designed to provoke controversy. It has encompassed arguing for prisoners to have access to voting, condoms and artificial insemination, and defending rioters and encouraging them to sue the police. Twenty-four years on, he also continues to act for families of victims of the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool supporters died at an FA Cup semi-final match. The article is - HERE
Taking a case to Strasbourg:
The Law Society Gazette also has a very good article on Bringing a case to Strasbourg which looks at many of the procedural points and the obstacles.
The David Miranda judicial review:
The High Court is set to hear the judicial review brought by David Miranda as a result of his detention under the Terrorism Act 2000 Schedule 7 - see earlier posts on this matter. The review will be heard by Lord Justice Laws, Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Openshaw. The Head of Legal blog has helpfully captured David Miranda's grounds for judicial review and also the Police defence and the Home Secretary's defence. One notable blogger has stated:
In my view, if High Court nods along with plain misuse of Schedule 7, we may as well give up with rule of law in "terrorism" cases. #Miranda
— David (@JackofKent) November 5, 2013
Here then is a case to be watched with great interest.
Pioneering family court facing closure:
A pioneering family court is said to be 'on the edge' of extinction. This is very disturbing at a time when the family courts are going to be unified into a single family court for England and Wales (Crime and Courts Act 2013). The Law Society Gazette has an article on this and notes that the Judge behind the court (District Judge Nicholas Crichton) has referred to the 'tyranny' of the 26 week time limit for care cases. The 26 weeks is not, as I understand it, an absolute deadline but the message is that it must be adhered to in all but the most exceptional cases. Judge Crichton remarked that - 'We all know parties who have successfully had their children returned home but who would have had them adopted under the 26 week time timetable - it's as tough as that.' ALL lawyers involved in child care cases are well aware that the welfare of the child is paramount and that delay can be prejudicial to that welfare (Children Act 1989 section 1). It is to be hoped that the 26 week timetable does not end up working injustice.