CRIMINAL SOLICITORS SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD TO ABSORB ANY FURTHER CUTS - Law Society Press Release
10 February 2017
Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans to impose cuts of up to £30 million on criminal defence solicitors have been condemned today by the Law Society.
The cuts come less than a month after the MoJ published proposals that will see QCs' fees rise by 10% at the expense of other criminal advocates.
Under the plans published today, the MoJ will reduce payments to advocates appointed by the Court to cross-examine alleged victims of abuse from private rates to legal aid rates, and will make changes to the Litigators Graduated Fee Scheme (LGFS) which will slash payments for paper-heavy Crown Court cases. The reason given for this latter change is that more pages of evidence are now being served by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and therefore average costs per case are increasing.
James Parry, chair of the Law Society's Criminal Legal Aid Committee said, "These cuts are unnecessary and ill-timed, given the long term project to reform the Litigator fee scheme, which will ultimately remove reliance on the pages of evidence which are creating this problem. The Society will be working with the MoJ on this longer term project and we believe that it is unwise to impose short-term cuts on the scheme before that project has even started."
The Law Society commissioned Oxford Economics to follow up their 2014 report looking at trends in legal aid expenditure. Their new report, published today, demonstrates that the MoJ is on track to make further savings in the criminal legal aid budget without any further cuts to rates.
"The Ministry has extensive independent evidence from consultants* that demonstrates that solicitors' businesses cannot afford to absorb further cuts, and there is a substantial risk that these cuts will drive a significant number of firms into insolvency," said James Parry.
"The firms most likely to bear the brunt of these cuts are the larger firms on whom the government depends to deliver a criminal defence service. The result could be that the government fails to meet its statutory obligations to ensure everyone accused of a crime has representation where required - a fundamental aspect of the rule of law and rights of citizens.
"We recognise that the MoJ has concerns about the use of paper as a proxy for determining fees in the Crown Court. With so much evidence now being video or data evidence, we have long shared those concerns. This is why we lobbied the Legal Aid Agency to start discussions about revisions to the LGFS to reflect the reality of Crown Court cases today. It is deeply disappointing that the MoJ is making ill-considered ad hoc changes to the scheme when those discussions are ongoing and making good progress."
Parry continued: "The solicitors' profession has engaged constructively with the Better Case Management and Transforming Summary Justice programmes to try to ensure that the criminal justice system operates more efficiently, and there is clear evidence that these changes are starting to bear fruit in terms of lower legal aid costs. Our members will not understand why, when they have done everything asked of them, they are being penalised because the prosecution is requiring them to do more work.
"This is not a rational approach. The Government needs to tackle the problem at source. It cannot keep responding to every change in the criminal justice system by slashing the fees paid to lawyers."
KENT MAGISTRATES COURTS - LISTING CONSULTATION 2017
URGENT ATTENTION OF KENT LAWYERS NEEDED
Deadline 28 February 2017
the Society has been contacted by Mr Stephen McAllister, the Justices' Clerk for Surrey, Sussex and Kent, announcing a listing consultation paper issued by the Kent Judicial Business Group (JBG), and requesting your earliest responses to the proposals being made. He has said that given the potential lead-in times to implement any agreed changes it wil be very helpful to receive views early in the consultation period in order to anticipate any planning required.
We are asked to respond to the consultation by email - marking the email JBG Listing Review. The JBG will formally consider the responses at its meeting shortly after the closure date and will publish a response to consultation paper explaining any decisions made.
In order to support this consultation process, HMCTS will be active in seeking opportunities to discuss issues with key stakeholders in the next few days. If you would like the opportunity to discuss any points with a member of the team please let them know as soon as possible. Mr McAllister's phone number is 07795 602301.
Westminster Legal Policy Forum Keynote Seminar
Next steps for the devolution of criminal justice
Tony Lloyd, Interim Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, Greater Manchester
Claire Dhami, Lead, Offending, Criminal Justice and the Devolution of Justice, West Midlands Combined Authority
David Lavery, Director, Access to Justice, Department of Justice, Northern Ireland Executive: and
Professor Chris Fox, Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Adarsh Kaul, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Health and Justice Clinical Reference Group; Jason Mansell, Milton Keynes College; Ellen Miller, Victim Support; Malcolm Richardson, Magistrates' Association; Councillor Stan Shreeve, North East Lincolnshire Council and Lesley Tregear, Warwickshire County Council and Association of Youth Offending Team Managers
Chaired by: Liz Saville-Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru Shadow Spokesperson for Home Affairs
Morning, Tuesday, 21st March 2017, Central Manchester
LAWCARE NEWS QUARTER 1 2017
24th January 2017
For the latest copy of LawCare News, click the logo.
HIS HONOUR GILES ROOKE Q.C.
It is with great sadness that Kent Law Society has heard of the death of HH Giles Rooke at the age of 86, on 27th January. He was the very first Resident Judge at Canterbury Court.
Giles was a great supporter of Kent Law Society and was well known and well respected by many members of Kent Law Society both past and present.
REFORMING THE SOFT TISSUE INJURY (WHIPLASH) CLAIMS PROCESS
Kent Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice consultation on this issue. To read the full response,
NEXT STEPS FOR THE DEVOLUTION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE - Westminster Legal Policy Forum Keynote Seminar
Tuesday 21st March 2017 - morning
22nd December 2016
'Please be advised, that in order to assist in reducing our trial backlog at Maidstone, Woolwich Crown Court have kindly agreed to deal with some of our S.51 sendings and committals for sentence from North & Central Kent Magistrates' Courts for all defendants with a DA home postcode. This will take effect from 16th January 2017 for an initial period of 3 months. These cases will bypass Maidstone and be sent directly to Woolwich.
All class 1 offences will remain at Maidstone.
If you have any issues or concerns regarding this proposed change, please do not hesitate to contact me.'
Zoe Critchley, Operations Manager, Kent Crown Courts
Mobile: 07776 180973
email - email@example.com
7th November 2016
Preface: "each party must give active assistance ot the Court in fulfilling its duty to further the overriding objective by actively managing the case" - CPR rule 3.3(2)(b).
As part of the Court's case progression procedures, the Maidstone CPO, Mrs Clare Denham, now prepares and distributes a Trial Readiness Action Monitor ('TRAM') in the form of a spreadsheet. This is emailed out to all parties on the Monday three weeks ahead of the day fixed for trial or first day of warned list. It is in column form and should be completed by the recipients in their respective columns and promptly returned to the Court so as to show trial readiness or otherwise. If a certificate of readiness has already been lodged by a party then the TRAM will say as much and nothing need be inserted in the TRAM by the party who has so certified.
The TRAM will not be sent out again prior to the trial date but if there is no response from a party (and no certificate of readiness has been lodged) then the case may be listed for mention re trial readiness at the end of the penultimate week before trial.
Since this is a relatively new initiative - one which is being adopted by numerous Crown Courts - I would be most grateful if the word could be spread among criminal litigators and advocates so that we achieve as good a take-up as possible. If it works it should reduce the number of in-court case readiness hearings and calls to and from the Court office.
HH Judge Jeremy Carey
KENT LAW SOCIETY RESPONSE TO COURTS REFORM POLICY CONSULTATION
26th October 2016
This September the Ministry of Justice went to consultation on proposals entitled 'Transforming the Justice System'. In summary, this relates to:
Kent Law Society has responded to this consultation and its comments and replies can be viewed HERE
A I : HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE LEGAL PRACTICE
Monday 23rd January 2017
Kent Law School, University of Kent at Canterbury (room to be allocated)
The Critical Law Society and Kent Law School invite you to a lecture by Dr Tania Peitzker and lawyer Michael Khajeh-Noori. They will address how Artificial Intelligence and innovative software are transforming the way law graduates work now and in the future.
They will look at:
Some real life examples will be explored.
The event is free, but please signify your intention to attend at this link.
'The Yorkshire Law Society 1786-2015 - A Personal Tribute' by Tony Lawton
Publication date November 2016 (Privately Published). Hardback i-xiv & 463 pp illustrated in b/w & colour
Price £18 plus 50p to a DX address or £3.35 P&P (UK 2nd class). Specimen chapters can be browsed on the Society?s website www.yorkshirelawsociety.org.uk/member-news
WILL AID 2016
Will Aid is a special partnership between the legal profession and nine of the UK's best-loved charities. Every November, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic Will. Instead, they invite their clients to make a donation to Will Aid. Each year, thousands of people use the Will Aid scheme. They not only gain peace of mind by writing their Will, they help fund life-changing charity work at the same time.
To register, go to http://willaid.org.uk/solicitors
For further information or materials please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 0300 013
TIMES OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS FEATURES KLS PRESIDENT! (copyright ToTW)
13th July 2016
It is sad to report the passing of Marga Tucker. Marga was a long and loyal supporter of Kent Law Society. She regularly attended the Keith Tucker Memorial Lecture at the University of Kent which was established following the premature death of her husband Keith, a former Secretary and long time member of Kent Law Society. Many of our members would have met Marga at the Lecture. Marga will be sadly missed. Further details will be circulated in due course.
Roger Cruttenden, Administrator
(Marga Tucker is shown on the left in this picture, taken at the 2015 Lecture.)
KENT LAW SOCIETY MEETS HELEN GRANT MP
26th May 2016
Following the very successful High Sheriff event in January, representatives of KLS met Helen Grant MP (Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald) on 20th May to discuss our many concerns about the changes affecting our profession and our clients. We are delighted to report that Helen now wants to arrange for us to meet other Kent MPs and Shailesh Vara to take these issues further. Please CLICK HERE for a very précised note on the topics we discussed. If you have any other concerns you would like us to raise please contact one of the Officers.
SCMA NEWSLETTER JUNE 2016
10th June 2016
For the latest newsletter from the Standing Conference of Mediation Advocates, click the logo.
MANAGING LEGACIES ON BEHALF OF CLIENTS
1st March 2016
Carol Lynch, CEO of Kent Community Foundation has provided an interesting article for KLS members on this subject. She explains how Kent Community Foundation can help provide grant-making expertise to solicitors who are tasked with dealing with charitable legacies.
CLICK HERE to read the article.