Protocol for the Training Days of 31March and 1 April

The LCCSA is aware that members of the profession intend to attend training over the above dates.

The CLSA, LCCSA and LAPG and all major practitioner groups, and with the Bar’s support, are astonished at the MOJ’s refusal to move on the level of cuts, despite clear evidence of dramatic reductions in expenditure.  We are dismayed by the MOJ’s betrayal of its promise to only make changes to remuneration which are evidence based.  It ignored 18,000 responses to the consultations and the two reports from Otterburn and KPMG which quite clearly reveal the Government proposals are unworkable.  The reports though were only released simultaneously with the MOJ final announcement without the profession being given the opportunity to make further representations taking their findings into account. Part of the purpose of the training on these two days is to consider fully the implications of these devastating reports.

It is of course a matter for each individual solicitor to decide whether he or she wishes to attend Court and police stations OR whether to attend training on the 31 March and 1 April.  We believe most will wish not to attend court on these days and will attend training.  As a representative organisation we cannot advise a withdrawal by the Duty Solicitor either at court or at the Police station as this will involve them taking the risk of a contract breach, which is unfair.

However we anticipate that individuals may wish to ensure contract compliance by instructing the Duty Solicitor as agent. The Duty Solicitor may well be very busy and should ensure that adequate lunch and refreshment breaks are taken during the day. No doubt an explanation will be made to each client and the court as to why the defendants’ own solicitor is not present during this period of extreme peril for access to justice.   It will be a long day.

Some may wish to instruct the police station duty solicitor as agent and not attend as own client solicitor.

If you do decide to attend training then it may be helpful to have regard to a non-binding protocol.  The LCCSA cannot suggest any course of conduct which may result in a breach of contract notice for you as an individual or firm.  This therefore is a different view from that taken at the Manchester meeting.  In addition London was very poorly represented in Manchester, some firms have moved their position since last Wednesday and importantly there is far greater unity both in London and outside London on the steps in the protocol which will increase affectivity.

 

Why are solicitors taking this action?

1.            We deplore the introduction of the 8.75% cut and believe this will have a most deleterious effect upon access to Justice. We press for that cut to be reversed when the evidence from the Otterburn and KPMG reports and the 18, 0000 responses is properly considered and in light of Otterburn’s warning not to introduce cuts before consolidation

2.            In the meantime we ask the MOJ to put on hold all further cuts until:

  • The effect of the first cut is fully ascertained.
  • The profession has had a full opportunity to make representations on the findings of the Otterburn and KPMG reports.
  • They reconsider the market consolidation measures proposed by the Law Society and supported by all the major practitioner groups based upon quality, sustainability and professional legacy. These proposals are not inconsistent with the MOJ objective of saving costs.
  • The various reviews announced by the Lord Chancellor are completed and factored into the calculations and reforms needed.

PROTOCOL

  1. Those who wish to attend Training Days and not to attend Courts or police stations on the 31 March and 1 April 2014 should give notice of their non-availability to the Court and the DSCC.

The LCCSA cannot advise its members not to cover their Duty rota slots which may expose them to the risk of contract breach notices   (Individuals may take a different view)

2.            The LCCSA view is that all solicitors individually instructing the duty solicitor at Court (the only lawyer available) will be very effective due to the immediate likely backlog caused.  It is permissible for the Duty to act as agent where the own solicitor is unable to attend. [1]

We anticipate that this will be a slow process in the Magistrates Court.  The Court duty solicitor should of course take an appropriate lunch break and refreshment breaks.

3.            With regard to police stations, if you decide not to attend due to training the police station duty solicitor can act in all cases as agent on terms to be agreed.  It is likely that all other duty solicitors within the firm will be training and thus unavailable.  The training will extend to police station individual agency staff and free-lance representatives.

4.            It is likely that no other duty solicitors will be able to accept panel or back up calls due to the intensive training on those days.  It is likely that the police station duty solicitor will be quite overworked but he/she should bear in mind that he/she should have appropriate rest periods and meal breaks.

5.            In areas operating a ‘call out’ scheme it is likely that everyone will be training.

6.            The Virtual Court rota although not part of the present contract will also be manned to avoid future blacklisting but will be restricted only to duty cases or vulnerable clients represented only by the duty solicitor.  We anticipate that this too will be a long process with lunch and refreshment breaks being taken where appropriate.

7.            For the Crown Court as the Bar are currently not this time participating the protocol only extends to the magistrate courts on these 2 days but we anticipate further joint training and action in the future which individuals may decide to participate in.

8.            The bar has indicated that they will not cover cases in the magistrates’ court or the police station that solicitors are unable to cover.


[1] The 2010 Duty Solicitor Regulations from the 2010 Standard Crime Contract - Specification paras 6.56 to 6.62

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