The support for our current action has been inspiring.
Across the Country, solicitors have "downed tools" and declined to attend the police station for own client cases or accept panel calls, and have declined to attend court or complete an application for legal aid on any case after 01 July unless as duty solicitor.
Now chambers are increasingly coming out in support of the action, indicating they will not accept cases with legal aid dated after 1 July.
Our action is already causing difficulties at police stations, and will increasingly affect the Courts.
The action was initiated because Mr Gove, with whom we are currently in correspondence, needs to listen to the profession who say as one voice that we cannot conduct work under the latest cuts. To maximise our impact we need everyone to remain solid in support.
Across most parts of the country, solidarity has been complete.
In London, with so many providers the support has been incredible. Today at Thames magistrates’ court 37 out of 40 prisoners were represented by the duty solicitor, at another South London Court the duty dealt with 22 in the cells. Serous matters are being sent to the Crown Court
There are a very small number of firms who are not observing the current action. We cannot force them to join us; this action is of course a collection of voluntary commercial decisions undertaken simultaneously, not a "strike". However through encouragement we are already seeing some firms who were initially sceptical joining the action. Unfortunately, what is not acceptable would be for those firms to seek advantage of unrepresented clients by "touting" for work. We will be reporting any improper breaches of the regulations to the SRA (rule O(8.3).
Our impression is that currently about 80-85% of London firms are following the protocol, but thus far we have had no way of collating this information other than by observation and anecdote. Some firms have been very public in their support, e.g. Tuckers, Birds, GT Stewart, and HJA.
We also have a long list of other firms who have confirmed they support the action, and we would like to promote some of those firms, but we do not wish to name firms without consent. Some firms are thinking of taking action but are keen to know who else is, to give them confidence.
We have therefore decided to ask for your help in showing the strength of support we have in this action.
Would you please confirm by responding to the following questions-
1. Is your firm complying with the action?
2. Are you happy for us to promote your support on social media such as Twitter?
3. If you are not happy for your firm’s name to be publicised, may we inform other solicitor’s firms who enquire privately of the committee who is taking action?
Finally please email examples where the protocol is having an impact to firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you; in the meantime the attachment below is template for a letter to the SRA which might be useful to you.
Letter to SRA