During my inaugural speech at the AGM back in November, I mentioned the unique set of challenges which the profession faced in the LCCSA?s 65th year. Not only were firms struggling to cope with the sustained series of deep cuts and increased costs associated with an over regulated profession, but also alternative business structures posed a new challenge. I referred to the fact that the spectre of competitive tendering had not disappeared, not being aware that it would return sooner than had been anticipated.
The announcement that there would be an accelerated consultation and tendering timetable may have been a surprise; but the strength of the reaction of members to this threat to justice was not.
If there is one positive thing that the consultation on PCT has achieved, it is the degree of unity within the profession which currently exists in opposition to it.
Following the gloom which descended during the week the paper was published, members were quickly galvanised into action. It was inspiring to see the response: big firms, small firms and individual lawyers have commented and written powerful articles and blogs about the fundamental flaws in the proposals which attack the very essence of what is required to provide an appropriate balance against the state in an adversarial criminal justice system.
The LCCSA sub-committee, formed for this specific purpose, met two days after the publication of the consultation paper and again a week later. It is actively campaigning against the proposals on your behalf and will initially continue to meet on a weekly basis. A number of firms have offered support and several individuals have come forward to volunteer many hours of effort to further the work of this sub- committee, for which the association is very grateful.
In order to ensure that this campaign againstthe proposals is fought as strongly as possible, we have set up a battle fund. This will cover some of the professional fees that we will have to incur to ensure that our voice is heard effectively.
While the focus of the association is understandably upon the campaign, the regular work of the committee goes on. We continue to represent members? interests at the criminal contracts consultative group meetings held once a month and at the digital working meetings.
The webinars continue to provide fantastic value for the membership fee, enabling members to accumulate 16 CPD points at a time convenient to them. We continue to work hard to encourage new members to join the association in these difficult times to ensure that our voice is heard.