An earlier version of this post appeared here Breakfast courts for cereal offenders? The new proposals amount to a serving of cold porridge, and advocates will need strong coffee when courts start sitting for 9 hour days... Defence lawyers who practice regularly in North London, along with the LCCSA and other representative bodies, were taken [...]
AGM-to AGM At last year's AGM we sold out at the original venue, expanded the room size, and sold-out again with over 100 members in attendance. (We broke even, despite ordering extra wine!) Nov 2015 President's speech here.) At this years AGM in the Crypt, Farringdon, we again had over 100 members attending, 85 of [...]
By the time this reaches you, I hope you will have enjoyed a couple of Bank Holiday weekends, an improvement in the weather and recovered from a surfeit of chocolate and the overdose of literary quotations squeezed into the last edition of The Advocate! But an editorial would not be complete without one cultural reference: [...]
In this edition, university academic, Dr Tom Smith, examines “the most expensive legal aid system in the world”. We look at the foolishness of politicians: Grayling may have made the cuts but what is the position of the Liberal Democrats on this issue? Rakesh Bhasin attempts to work this out. (To even up the politician-bashing, [...]
I would like to start my first editorial by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. It is, unfortunately, a year that begins with great uncertainty but we can take some small comfort from the fact that we are not alone. In this edition's interview, Ian Lawrence, the general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, confirms that the future of probation officers is not a certain one and that Mr Grayling's proposals for them are as ill conceived as are his plans for us.
This is the last editorial I shall write for the London Advocate and composing it is a curious task because I find myself in the unusual position of welcoming myself as the new president of the association.
As ever, the LCCSA annual dinner was a splendid and most enjoyable event and, this year, featured a standing ovation for a brilliant speech from the association's guest speaker, Lord Justice Moses. Members and guests alike responded to his wittily argued attack on the proposals for price competitive tendering which have been put forward by the Ministry of Justice.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" - Charles Dickens's description of the French Revolution only begins to reflect this period in the life of the association: the proposals with which our members are threatened - amounting to a death sentence for the majority - are terrifying; but there have been few occasions in our history when we have seen such commitment, courage and unity in response.
The consultation document from the Ministry of Justice is called Transforming Legal Aid. This is no exaggeration: a transformation is certainly what has been proposed. British justice has been - still is - the envy of the world. Not for much longer.
Over the past weeks, LCCSA representatives have met with officials at the Ministry of Justice to discuss the future of legal aid provision. Yet again, our president and others repeat the argument that, for a market such as criminal defence, the concept of a tendering process is completely inappropriate.
The concept of the "rule of law" keeps cropping up in these pages. In this issue, it is stoutly defended by our interviewee, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of the Law Society, who sees its preservation as a vital thread running through her work in this, her year of office.