Monday, 18 November 2013

The Lincoln's Inn 'Legal Aid Rally'

Nigel Lithman QC is the present Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association.  In his 'Monday Message' he reports about a Rally at Lincoln's Inn last Saturday.  The meeting was attended by barristers from all over the country.  They are united in opposition to the government's plans for legal aid as revealed in two consultations - (discussed previously on this blog - First consultation 4th June and Second consultation 1st November).  Lithman makes the point that the Ministry of Justice is not listening to the many voices raised in opposition to their savage proposals (e.g. the first consultation received around 16000 responses) and he goes on to set out the resolutions agreed by the meeting.

The issues raised are immensely serious ones for the future of a fair system of criminal justice in England and Wales.  One of the most serious effects of the government proposals is that the junior bar will cease to be financially viable for the vast majority of junior barristers.  Already, the point may now have been reached where a career at the criminal bar is out of the question for many talented young people of modest means.  This will impact on the diversity of the legal profession and, in the longer term, on the quality of legal representation available to accused persons and, of course, on the eventual quality of the judiciary.

Please read the 'Monday Message' fully.   The resolutions are also set out here. They include this:

The calling of a day or days of action on which no members of the criminal bar will undertake work in either the magistrates or crown courts. We will ask for the support of the representative bodies of the solicitor’s profession in standing by us on that (those) day (s). The purpose will be to demand that the government stays all its current proposals for legal aid and that the justice secretary engages with us meaningfully.

Other links:

Legal Voice - Barristers threaten to 'strike' over legal aid cuts - Hundreds of criminal barristers from across the country have unanimously voted in favour of strike action if the government does not back down on its proposed further cuts to legal aid.  The vote took place at Saturday’s Criminal Bar Association (CBA) national delegates’ conference at Lincoln’s Inn in London, where barristers from each of the six circuits turned out to make a stand against the government’s reform proposals for legal aid, including the proposal to cut defence barristers’ fees in criminal legal aid cases by a further 17.5%.

Justice Alliance is seeking to persuade the Liberal Democrats to oppose the cuts put forward by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition.   See the Justice Alliance website.

The government's attack on barristers is a looming disaster - Telegraph 19th November.

Bar Council

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