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to wonder why Chris Grayling's plans to smash our justice system appear to have gone unnoticed here?

(82 Posts)
rooiewooie Mon 22-Apr-13 14:08:01

I've been lurking on here for 3 years now. Never plucked up the courage to post until now.

Barristers in the North are "on strike" (ie meeting) to discuss the latest threat to legal aid and our justice system.

AIBU to wonder why this is not being discussed on MN?

Snoopingforsoup Mon 22-Apr-13 14:11:41

I think it has been. It's been discussed everywhere else.

scaevola Mon 22-Apr-13 14:13:22

There have been a number of threads about the wider away of legal aid. I am surprised you've missed all of if it's an area of interest to you.

Here's but one example of MN engagement with this. If you search MN, you'll easily find lots more.

So YABU to assume it's not been discussed. And YABU to assume MNetters are not interested.

Spero Mon 22-Apr-13 14:19:31

I have just clicked that link and it has a grand total of 3 posts so I assume it is not a topic setting mumsnet on fire.

My experience has been that people are happy to argue for an anti women bias in family court system for eg or to say that all social workers are crap but seem less interested in the wholesale dismantling of the family court system.

There is also not much sympathy for lawyers as people often don't understand the distinction between lawyers in private practice and lawyers paid by the state. So probably a lot of people dismiss this as 'fat cats' moaning, whereas I recall the last bail application I did I was actually out of pocket after paying my train fare and buying my criminal client some cigs.

rooiewooie Mon 22-Apr-13 14:27:59

To clarify I was referring to the very latest plans - competitive tendering for criminal legal aid work - as opposed to the changes to legal aid for family cases, which have already come in.

Grammaticus Mon 22-Apr-13 14:31:10

Quite, spero. But the Law Society and Bar Council seem to be totally shite at getting that message across. People on here moaning about teachers' pay always get to me, they are paid pretty much the same as legal aid lawyers and don't get me started on the holidays

scaevola Mon 22-Apr-13 15:07:26

I linked that one because it shows MN taking a public stand, not because of length of debate on it. As I said in my pp, it is merely one example.

If you use the Search function, there are plenty of hits. I thought it would derail this thread to link them all.

Spero Mon 22-Apr-13 15:37:36

Checked link again. Still only 3 posts. So while it is great to see mumsnet take a stand, it is clearly not an issue anyone gives much of a shit about.

I am a fairly regular user of this site and I don't recall seeing any debate about this issue. I will try a search.

Spero Mon 22-Apr-13 15:43:36

Well either search function is crap or I am. Found a thread from March with 5 posts and something from 2011 with 26 posts.

I think the gov has done a very clever job on publicising the (very few) criminal legal aid lawyers who earn shed loads to make it seem like all lawyers are rolling around in caviar.

So no op I don't think YABU.

rooiewooie Mon 22-Apr-13 16:09:22

Spero I think we found the same thread from 2011 (

Has anyone read or read about the MOJ consultation document ?

Is everyone OK with the fact that if these plans go through lawyers will get paid the same whether the client pleads guilty or goes to trial?

And if you are falsely accused of a crime and can't afford to pay for legal representation you'll have to settle for whoever the CPS gives you from whichever firm submitted the cheapest bid?

eastegg Mon 22-Apr-13 16:18:49

You're right to raise this OP, and I think it is noticeable there's nowhere near as much debate as there would be about threats to schools or the NHS. Most people won't miss a decent criminal justice system until it's gone, they think all barristers are fat cats who are only trying to waste taxpayers' money defending the guilty. A hatchet job has been done by successive governments and now this one is ready to destroy publicly funded barrister and solicitors.

You can say that a criminal barrister earns the same as a teacher, roughly, but people literally won't believe it. Once you take into account holidays, sick pay, professional subs and indemnity etc, it probably works out less. But this isn't about whingeing, it's about saving a profession under attack.

andubelievedthat Mon 22-Apr-13 16:21:10

Most likely(lack of any real interest) is that most peeps are of the subconcious opinion that they will never need a solicitor at any time in their law abiding life,only "proper criminals will have such a need so why should the aforementioned mr/mrs johnny b good bother taking an interest? until the day they find themselves in a cell(from experience)by which time , it is ,as usual ,way too late.<resisting the urge to put exclamation mark !(and more than likely ,spell corectly !)

Spero Mon 22-Apr-13 16:43:11

I deliberately turned down a criminal pupillage from a really good set of Chambers because after only 6 months doing criminal cases on the mags court I could see which way the wind was blowing and I doubted very much I could have survived the next couple of years.

Of course we need an efficient well run system. But I don't think the way we are going is going to achieve this. I would rather see more investment in an efficient court system so trials weren't adjourned all the time.

rooiewooie Mon 22-Apr-13 19:14:35

for sure eastegg, "most people" don't realise that independent barristers prosecute as well as defend. They are the ones who take on the hard cases that the CPS can't handle. So if we lose the profession we'll also lose the ability to make sure those who are guilty of the most dreadful crimes get what they deserve and that their victims get justice.

andubelievedthat indeed, think of people like Christopher Jefferies (Joanna Yeats landlord) and Barry George (wrongfully convicted of Jill Dando's murder)

Spero yes, there are soooooo many other ways to save money. How about stopping the CPS prosecuting people when they don't have any evidence? How about making Tesco pay every time they prosecute someone for shoplifting, instead of the tax payer?

Spero Mon 22-Apr-13 19:23:01

I don't agree that Tescos should pay if someone commits a crime in their shops, I think prosecution of crime should always be a function of the state and we should pay taxes to support that.

But what I am worried about is that, once again, there is no thought given to reforms which would endure and would save money in the long run, rather 'we need to save billions now so lets just cut' - it will end up costing loads more money in the long run.

I am not in the criminal system anymore but the family system shows similar problems - desparate to save money the gov cuts legal aid for lots of emotive and difficult cases, expecting litigants in person to be able to put together a trial bundle, cross examine each other and then draw up court orders. And at the same time, they cut the number of available court staff and close court counters after lunch so you have no one to speak to.

rooiewooie Mon 22-Apr-13 20:14:21

yes, once again top down imposition of ill thought out reforms developed by people who know nothing about the system they are trying to "transform".

I guess we'll just have to hope our nearest and dearest don't ever need to settle a family matter / get wrongfully arrested / offended against in future...

Spero Tue 23-Apr-13 08:00:45

And this is part of the reason why the gov will succeed

ZillionChocolate Tue 23-Apr-13 08:34:07

If the Government succeed, it's because they have all the power and their consultations are a sham. They are only interested in numbers, at the moment it's spending on legal aid. It doesn't take account of the consequences, like delay or unnecessary appeals. Justice isn't something you can measure easily and the Government doesn't seem to value it.

When the system falls apart, it won't be possible to resurrect it. It's frightening.

rooiewooie Tue 23-Apr-13 10:21:44

What do you think the answer is spero? To raising awareness, I mean?

Last time I checked only 16000 people had signed the petition!!

rooiewooie Tue 23-Apr-13 10:27:16

Yup, the idea of G4S running our justice system is very frightening ZillionChocolate. Look what happened with the Olympics...

Merle Tue 23-Apr-13 10:37:06

The 'consultation' has been brought forward by 6 months.

It has taken time for people to consider it and to formulate a response, which is why yesterday's meeting in Manchester was so necessary.

The Bar is an easy target, because we have no employment rights. It is unthinkable that any other profession would be treated with such contempt by the government.

Ultimately, of course, whether or not a barrister is in work won't concern most members of the public. Times are hard and there is no reason why cuts shouldn't be made. (actually criminal legal aid rates have been cut for the last 15 years, but anyhow).

This is not about money, it is about access to justice. The government is happy to allow G4S, Eddie Stobart, or anyone who is able to under-cut their bids, to handle British justice. The problem is that you get what to pay for, so we have the prospect of restricting access to justice, poorly represented defendants and a cluster of cases of miscarriages of justice, in the future.

The thing about the justice system is that it never matters, until you or your family are directly affected. Then it really matters. Please consider signing the petition.

specialsubject Tue 23-Apr-13 10:42:21

what others have said (and no, I am not in the legal profession). As law-abiding citizens we think we'll have no need of legal representation - that is not necessarily the case.

I was surprised to find out that the law is not always a high-paying profession - some barristers are really beginning to struggle and this proposal will make it much worse. Carter-Fuck and his mates as featured in Private Eye are not typical.

a functioning and accessible legal system is a cornerstone of a democracy. Please sign the petition if you agree.

Spero Tue 23-Apr-13 11:03:51

I think it is too late now. The Bar has always had abysmal PR. for at least 20 years of not more people have been fed the 'fat cat' myth - I still get it on certain threads.

The criminal bar should have got itself better organised much earlier.the public perception of barristers as pompous and over paid is so ingrained now that its a handy vehicle for the gov to hitch these cuts to. There is very little sympathy for the Bar and we share much of the blame for this. Traditional failure to engage with new media etc etc.

The problem is as others have said, a system dismantled in haste is going to cause many many more problems down the line.

Merle Tue 23-Apr-13 12:09:24

I have been talking to people, from all walks of life, about these proposals, and I have found that they do understand the issues and have not fallen for the cliche of the bar quaffing claret whilst raking in the cash.

Spero Tue 23-Apr-13 12:27:09

So have they signed the petition?

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