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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?

rooiewooie Wed 24-Apr-13 15:48:16

So to summarise, IWNBU to ask, but it is quite complex and so not likely to be of immediate interest to MN / general public. Thanks for educating me smile

Spero Wed 24-Apr-13 19:45:14

Fair summary!

This is a good clear summary

WorldofSab Thu 25-Apr-13 23:26:58

Hi - came to this via FB smile

I'm a criminal defence solicitor in the North East.

Realistically I think these proposals are going to come in whether we like it or not. The length of the 'consultation', the speed this is being brought in etc makes me assume this is a done deal, with major 'preferred providers' already found.

I strongly suspect that PCT will come in, with some minor amendments (eg more firms 'winning' bids) to make us think we've won a skirmish, when in fact we've lost the war. Grayling wants PCT to happen or some major fee cuts. The Law Society appears to have capitulated already and offered our asses out.

If our professional body aren't all that bothered about us, then I don't think the public will be either. Not even the Guardian has really picked up on this. The Daily Mail and Express will be THRILLED that lawyers are losing their jobs, and those nasty criminals being shafted.

Net result?

No client choice
Minimum 17.5% pay cut
75% fewer firms
An entire profession decimated.

Sad but realistic!

WorldofSab Thu 25-Apr-13 23:28:49

......and every WORD of what kungfupannda said!

rooiewooie Fri 26-Apr-13 22:43:50

#saveUKjustice trended on twitter today! petition is up to 21k signatures!

clearly a few members of the public do understand/care about what is at stake, so it is not over yet! don't lose heart lawyer folk!

if you haven't signed yet do it here

beeny Sat 27-Apr-13 10:10:14

Please do sign and if you are not convinced ask about what will happen

edam Sat 27-Apr-13 10:22:47

Seriously, even if you are innocent and found not guilty, you'll have to pay your entire legal fees if you have more than £36,500 disposable income?! Good grief.

No surprise that the govt. is imposing stupid, self-defeating, ultimately expensive cuts - they are doing it everywhere else, esp. in the NHS and social care (which are areas I happen to know about).

edam Sat 27-Apr-13 10:23:19

Isn't there EU legislation about access to justice - how do the govts proposals stack up against this (or am I mistaken)?

rooiewooie Sun 28-Apr-13 10:53:02

I have no idea edam, maybe someone more knowledgeable can explain?

the Independent are reporting it today though, at last!

edam Sun 28-Apr-13 12:01:34

Found something interesting about EU rules on access to justice: page 47

Article 47 CFR states that “legal aid shall be made
available to those who lack sufficient resources in
so far as such aid is necessary to ensure effective
access to justice.” Thus, denial o flegal aid may
constitute a violation ofthe fundamenta lright of
accessing justice ifthe lack oflegal aid may lead,
for example,to an inequality of arms, which would
create a substantial disadvantage forthe individual.
In its case law, the ECtHR noted that the state must
“display diligence so as to secure to those persons
the genuine and effective enjoyment of the rights
guaranteed under Article 6”.

In the case of
Miroslaw Orzechowski v. Poland the ECtHR found that
the decision to refuse legal aid “infringed the very
essence” of the applicants’ right to access the courts.

edam Sun 28-Apr-13 12:04:44

Although maybe the government is banking on the fact that loss of legal aid/privatisation will mean no-one can afford to take a case to Europe and prove it is illegal/ there are no solicitors left to take the case because they are all huge firms who benefit from the changes.

rooiewooie Sun 28-Apr-13 12:57:16

it is a complete fit up! and still only 23 000 people have signed the petition !

Alibar50 Sun 28-Apr-13 14:16:29

I came across this thread and hope to add some further information. It is great that at last this disastrous proposal, is being talked about by non-lawyers. Lawyers are not popular, but criminal lawyers generally do not work in this area without a belief in justice and fairness and which, despite misinformation, will not make them wealthy. I am not a lawyer but my daughter is a criminal barrister and my husband was a criminal solicitor. Independent self-employed barristers, those not employed in-house by solicitors or the CPS, rely on Crown Court advocacy work referred to them. Increasingly solicitors and the CPS keep as much work to themselves as they can and understandably refer out only when they have to. This means that a self-employed barrister’s work currently is mainly trials, particularly those which have problems, which results in a stressful working life. Fees for Crown Court work have been repeatedly reduced. After price-competitive tendering large companies, which are not required to have any legal background, will under the new scheme make the most money if people plead guilty and will lose profits if a person insists on the right to trial. These companies will only make a reasonable profit, as they will have had to bid low to win the contract in the first place, if they employ people at the lowest cost to them that they can. It is unlikely that these will be the experienced, well qualified support staff, solicitors or barristers who work in the current system. The little work referred to self-employed barristers will be at slashed fees, paying a trial as much as a guilty plea even though many hours will need to be spent to properly prepare and advocate in a trial. My daughter is struggling financially now, and if the new system comes in she will have to find a new way of earning a living. Out of principle she will not work within the new scheme. There will be miscarriages of justice, victims of crime will not receive justice, good quality solicitors firms and the independent criminal Bar will be gone for good, together with their ethics and knowledge, and huge numbers of people will lose their jobs. Solicitors and barristers are in this together. If they don’t fight together and the general public does not understand what is at stake everyone loses.

edam Sun 28-Apr-13 14:46:01

And the really stupid thing is, all this ridiculous proposal will do is cost more - as cases will take far longer when people are representing themselves and there will be many more miscarriages of justice, which are ruddy expensive to deal with. (Far more expensive than getting it right in the first place.)

babybarrister Sun 28-Apr-13 21:21:51

I totally agree with op. As a family lawyer I and others warned people on the legal threads that legal aid would be removed for vast majority of family cases - no-one was interested sad. Of course now 1 April has passed and it has gone people are moaning on the legal threads about it and how unfair it is - I always ask whether they wrote to their MPs as the lawyers had warned them time and time again ...inevitably they did not bother as who cares about 'fat cat' lawyers .... FWIW I don't do legal aid myself so so much for self interest ....angryangryangry

babybarrister Sun 28-Apr-13 21:27:20

The last time there was a threatened strike the bar was itself threatened with prosecution under some competition act offenceangry

Spero Sun 28-Apr-13 22:40:24

The Welsh are striking!!

babybarrister Mon 29-Apr-13 19:13:21

Yup - about time too - let's see if they the nasty threatening letter that was sent by moj last time angry

edam Tue 30-Apr-13 23:02:37

Well done those Welsh lawyers - will be interesting to see what happens.

The point that family makes about clinical negligence is very worrying. I feared the govt. would ram that one through. Makes it easier for them to destroy the NHS - none of the patients they harm will be able to sue for the costs of life-long disability... sacking midwives and running a dangerously understaffed unit suddenly becomes a lot more attractive to trust chief execs.

kungfupannda Tue 30-Apr-13 23:09:16

WorldofSab - I agree with everything you say, except that I don't think they've found preferred providers yet. Possibly in London, given how active the Johnson group have been, but not in most places.

I work for a firm that is big enough that we will almost certainly survive this in some way, shape or form - although the individual solicitors aren't sure which ones of us will be kept on. There will be 4 contracts for our area and it is pretty inconceivable that we won't get one of those. We haven't been approached by anyone.

WorldofSab Wed 01-May-13 14:28:39

We're not allowed to strike - last time BVT/PCT was on the cards, the Law Society made it very clear that it would discipline anyone striking! So much for any solidarity from our professional body. They don't even recognise my union.

Hi Kungfuupanda - even in those areas with only 4 MAXIMUM contracts, what if g4S, Serco, Stobart etc bid? Are you in a PDS area? They're guaranteed one of those contracts. What if one of the London firms like Duncan Smith, or even Manc firms like Tuckers bid out of area? Because they will.

If you're in North Yorks, which is a proposed 4 contract area, that encompasses an ENORMOUS geographical area - Scarborough, Harrogate, York, Hull etc. Logistically, it will be difficult, as well as factoring in 4 or 5 offices to be run, travel costs etc etc

I'm in an area where our firm is pretty well placed to get a contract as long as out of area/ national providers don't step in. Even if we do get a contract, then I would expect a pay cut if I'm kept on at all tbh.

Scary times!

WorldofSab Wed 01-May-13 14:33:18

...and babybarrister - ditto with the civil cuts that came in on 1 April. I bleated on and on at people, wrote stuff, campaigned etc but in the end, not many people gave a shit - the general perception seemed to be the 'fat cat lawyer' meme. Now it's come in, people are horrified - 'What do you mean I have to pay to get contact with my kids/ get you to help me sort out my debt?' etc.

Lots of my friends also lost their jobs, and are really struggling to find anything else out there - solicitors, support staff, advisers etc.

NicknameTaken Wed 01-May-13 15:01:35

I signed the petition, even though I'm not keen on the wording, which seems to be confined to "citizens" when surely it should be anyone accused of a criminal offence.

I'm still angry at the collapse of the Immigration Advisory Service due to changes in legal aid, which came suspiciously suddenly after some important wins against the government. Talk about targeting the most vulnerable, including asylum-seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking.

"First they came for.."

60sname Wed 01-May-13 19:30:07

Unconstructive but after having lunch with Chris Grayling once I concluded that he is an idiot (he spent the meal demonstrating the more pointless apps on his iPhone)

rooiewooie Wed 01-May-13 20:05:40

mumsnetters stand idle while the Tories kill our justice system! But at least my thread about its impending death limps on grin

Sorry to be melodramatic, but I still can't believe that only 27K people have signed the Save UK Justice petition

When will the country wake up and realise we are headed for an unmitigated disaster!!

60sname you had to break bread with him in order to reach that conclusion shock

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