Thursday 10 May 2012 by Catherine Baksi

The adversarial criminal justice system will survive only if practitioners embrace modernisation, the attorney general warned solicitors last week.

Dominic Grieve QC told the Law Society's criminal law conference that he believed 'passionately' in the adversarial system, which 'delivers qualitatively better outcomes' than cheaper regimes. But he said: 'If it's going to survive, there has to be a recognition by those practising in it that the system has to be made to work efficiently.'

He also warned that 'if those working in it spin out proceedings, that will ultimately destroy the ­system'. In a speech stressing the need for efficiencies in the face of the 'toughest fiscal challenge in living memory', Grieve said that price competition for defence services is still on the agenda despite the government's decision last December to delay the introduction of price-competitive tendering.

But he told delegates: 'The drivers are such that there is a great deal of pressure to introduce it. I wouldn't want you to think it will never happen.'

Grieve also highlighted savings being made by the Crown Prosecution Service and police moving away from paper to digital working. Most forces, he said, are already transferring case information to the CPS electronically, and over 60% of prosecutors are using digital tablet devices to present cases in court. All magistrates' courts can receive digital case files from the CPS and all first hearing information is now served electronically to the court, while electronic service of Crown court cases will begin this year, he added.

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