Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Lawyers Take Action

It looks like the legal profession is determined to take on the Government over Legal Aid cuts:-

Urgent Information for Members further to Ballot

Dear Colleague

As you will be aware there have been a series of meetings across the country to discuss action against the 8.75% cut which is effective for all new criminal legal aid work commencing tomorrow. These took place in conjunction with the on line ballot.

There was a meeting of London practitioners last night at which over 100 practitioners and over 100 members of The Independent Bar attended. The meeting overwhelmingly supported the motion that solicitors cannot take further instructions on new starts after midnight tonight. To do so would place us firmly in breach of our professional duty. Many of us signed a pledge in October 2013 in which we declared just this. In January we face a further cut on litigator fees, in some cases more than 50%. This means that we will be having to make choice in many cases as to whether we visit clients in prison and make a loss, or make do with limited instructions and the consequences that follow.

We are opposed to Dual contracting, and seek to persuade the MOJ, as we have consistently done that the cuts which give rise to this program of forced consolidation is not necessary and dangerous for the fragile system within which we operate. Mr Gove cannot say on one hand that he wishes to move away from a two tier justice system whilst also implementing this programme.

At the meeting last night we received strong indications that some firms would withdraw their bids. We are interested to hear from firms who wish to take this step, in order to assist our research.

Firms individually decided that they would decline new instructions from midnight 1st July in respect of all legally aided matters save for discharging their contractual obligations as duty solicitors.

Whether a client is represented as duty solicitor or not, no legal aid certificates will be applied for.

Firms are entitled to take the view that whilst there are short term concerns over the vulnerable and those accused of serious offences, they cannot be represented to a professional standard under the new rates.

The duty solicitor will be available to assist these clients, during the time they are detained in the police station. For this to be effective, the duty solicitor or representative might want to cover the slot without relying on back up.

The view of firms at the meeting is that they will not be accepting back up calls during this period.

We understand that the Ministry of Justice may be preparing to brief journalists with regards to such cases where clients have been left without representation. If any of you have counter takes of clients that have suffered under the existing system please forward them through.

Most of the Big firms have agreed to support this action and a few that haven’t have agreed to a “no poaching “policy.

This really is the last opportunity attempt to protect what we have been fighting for over the past two years, please don’t be out off by the “what ifs”, which have allowed the MOJ to do whatever they want to us.

See documents below that may assist together with a letter to Mr Gove from LCCSA & CLSA.

1. Protocol for the action

2. Note to duty solicitors as to how they can help

3. Note to advocates to hand to others at court who may be unaware of what do are not acting

4. Leaflet to client explain the action

5. Statement from LCCSA

Please let other firms in your area know about this action, and if you can arrange meetings.

LCCSA is not seeking to encourage any breach of contract. You have each signed your contract with the LAA and it is your responsibility to comply with your obligations under the said contract and you must ensure that you do so notwithstanding whatever decision you have reached as an individual.



  1. Blimey!. Something that might have a bit of leverage - any suggestions how Probation could support or at least not undermine, this initiative?.

    1. Probation Officer30 June 2015 at 22:34

      Unfortunately "probation" already threw in the towel (which we can thank our chief officers for)!!

  2. Overheard today (verbatim to the best of recollection): "yeah? Someone in local crc has suggested that napo have agreed to put sodexos alternative evr offer before membership. Is this true? As I'm nps does this mean I've missed out on a rollover jackpot? At least I'm still a PO doing PO work with high risk cases, knocking back shockingly amateurish breach paperwork to the crc & feeling pretty secure."

    We have no chance of solidarity, I'm afraid. Too many opportunists, too much naked ambition, too much "me! Me!! ME!!!"

    1. Are you sure you heard right? I find it hard to believe. No-one I am working with is behaving in this way.

    2. I think this guy is projecting.

  3. Anon 23:49 me thinks you regularly post about CRC / NPS split ..... would you please stop saying these divisive things? In my area there is not a single experience like you suggest, we all remain colleagues even across the divide, to which we are opposed. NPS is not that great so I doubt anyone has said what you suggest. Please stop this.

    1. I'm 23:49. - I'm glad you do not experience such unpleasantness in your workplace. Sadly, we do. Its deeply offensive, makes the days even harder to cope with and means we can't wait to be in a separate building. The local nps manager encourages it & is a past master at passive-aggressive bullying. Not all local nps staff have bought into it, but its an attitude thats gathering momentum. I haven't commented about it before, but its an important aspect of where we are & what we're dealing with. In our area we're not the only office to experience this divisive nastiness.

      "So I doubt anyone has said what you suggest. Please stop this." Really? If I close my eyes really tight & count to ten, will the nasty monster go away?

    2. Ex-Napo member1 July 2015 at 08:01

      The post at 23:49 doesn't match my experience either - for instance, why is a PO managing high risk cases and also "knocking back" CRC breaches? - but I'm not going to dismiss it out of hand just because it's not like that where I work.

      NPS and CRC are feeling like very different organisations right now, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were people like this around on either side.

    3. 23:49 again - ex-napo,you are rightthatthere are people like this on either side. Its the behaviour thats wrong, and the point to be made was that whilst such attitudes & behaviour exist, solidarity wont be achieved.

  4. my old SPO was always a twat but got even worse when she found out i'd opted for CRC - she took it really personally !!