Practice and Procedure

Ray Shaw addresses the annual meeting of Resident Judges

PUBLISHED December 15, 2011

Previous president of the LCCSA, Raymond Shaw, was invited to address the Resident Judge's Annual Meeting at the University of Warwick on 27th October 2011.

We believe this was the first time a defence solicitor representative has been invited to Resident Judge's Annual Meeting and we were honoured that Raymond was invited on behalf of the Association to attend. The Annual Meeting runs over two days and Resident Judges from around the country were present along with Lord Justice Goldring who played a central role in the event as a whole. The session involving Raymond was over one afternoon, with the session being run twice for two groups split into those representing larger and smaller court centres.

Alison Saunders from the CPS spoke of the examples at those courts where the CPS had regular meetings and good lines of communication with the Resident Judge and Court offices. She was quizzed heavily on all the obvious difficulties the CPS face including delays, disclosure issues, case progression and how the 25% cuts to the CPS budget will impact. The Judges' interventions demonstrated considerable awareness and understanding of the difficulties faced by the defence, particularly in respect of delays that are not caused by defence failures but by others in the CJS.

Among the many points that Ray made were:

  • We do not have regular engagement or ready line of communication with Courts - and we should have;
  • Court User Groups are not all effective and do not all include engaged defence reps. This is to the detriment of the court and defence solicitors alike;
  • Defence solicitors are useful resources and should be listened to; we are the only participants in the system (save for the defendant) who experience all parts of the system from police station to Magistrates and Crown Courts, Court of Appeal, probation service, Legal Aid, Youth Offender Teams, virtual Courts, prisons and so on. As such we are well placed to see how decisions in one area may impact on another;
  • The provision of examples of where our input, suggestions or warnings have helped the system previously, (and some suggestions as to why we may have been historically excluded from discussions involving the other CJS agencies);
  • The LCCSA would be happy to assist any Court in identifying a defence representative either to sit on a Court User Group or to be involved in discussions with the Court and to feed back information to the Association.