Sunday 12 July 2015

Criminal Bar and the fight for legal aid

Update 15th July: Ballot result via Criminal Bar Association -  the vote in favour of no new work and 'no returns' to support solicitor's action was 982 to 795 - equating to 55% in favour and 45% against.  Francis Fitzgibbon QC was elected to the position of Vice-Chair of the CBA.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) is conducting a ballot intended to give the executive of the Association a suitable mandate as to whether to support solicitors over the 8.75% cut in litigator's fees imposed by the government from 1st July 2015.  (It is the second such cut).  As things stand, further changes to criminal legal aid provision will take place from 1st January 2016.  The question being asked in the ballot is:

Solicitors face an 8.75% cut to litigators’ fees. In support of solicitors, do you wish to go back to ‘no returns’ and also refuse all new work with a representation order dated from 1st July 2015 until such time as solicitors decide not to take further action in respect of that cut?


Opinion on this is to be found via the links below.  The ballot has some 4000 members eligible to vote and voting closes on 14th July.   Interestingly, the CBA ballot refers only to the 8.75% fee cut and not to the connected issue of Dual Contracts (Own Client Work and Duty Provider Work) for solicitors - explained here.  Dual contracts will reduce from about 1600 to 527 the number of solicitor firms undertaking duty provider work. The government has already held a bidding process for this new contractual regime.

Criminal Bar Association- various views of barristers set out on the CBA website.  A particularly striking contribution is that of Tom Copeland - A Junior Barrister's view - Voting Yes.  Copeland says - " I want to stay but I will be forced to leave. Maybe people from my background don’t belong at the Bar after all. Maybe this government does not want people like me here. I don’t know.  I do know that in order to have meaningful access to justice and a diverse junior Bar we cannot allow this government to go ahead with these cuts. As a junior, direct action will be painful but inaction will be fatal. I believe we are at the point of no return."

Robin Murray in The Justice Gap 9th July - Despatches from the frontline

This "Tweet" links to an article setting out the remuneration of solicitors for criminal legally aided work:

The CBA is also conducting an election for its Vice-Chairman.  The views of the two outstanding candidates (Francis Fitzgibbon QC and Mark George QC) may be read at Vice-Chairman election

1 comment:

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