Urgent Update for all Members: 24th March 2020

PUBLISHED March 24, 2020

Dear Members
A Practitioner’s Group meeting took place remotely yesterday afternoon in which we had an opportunity to ask The Law Society what the current position is, and also to put forward some of the many ideas and suggestions we have received from both our members and across the wider legal social media community.
The long and short of it is that there is a “steering” group made up of various bodies including the MOJ, HMCTS and the LAA. The Law Society and LAPG are on this group but the Practitioner Groups, including the LCCSA, are not directly part of this group. We are therefore relying on The Law Society and LAPG to look after our interests and communicate updates to us.
Both The Law Society and LAPG have been working very hard behind the scenes asking the pertinent questions we have all been raising. See the LAPG website for an ongoing list you can contribute to directly: https://www.lapg.co.uk/covid-19-issues-facing-legal-aid-providers-and-the-action-we-need-from-the-laa/
There appears to be a lot of delay in the MOJ/HMCTS/LAA etc answering the said questions and then a further delay in The Law Society getting their communications out to the profession. I am told that The Law Society website is being updated and we should be regularly checking this for the latest position.
The various Practitioner Groups made a number of suggestions in yesterday’s meeting for The Law Society to urgently feed directly back into the steering group. This included:
- The need for an urgent national protocol with regards to Magistrates’ Courts.
- The need for clarification re attending police stations and whether a full fee will be payable for cases dealt with entirely by phone/video.
- The need for clarification as to what financial help will be given to firms to help with cash flow over the coming months.
These meetings are ongoing, happening almost daily and they were due to attend one straight after our Practitioner’s Group meeting yesterday.
It was raised that The Law Society need to do better in communicating publicly what is happening in these meetings to avoid the profession believing that nothing is being done on behalf of solicitors. This is particularly important as the Bar is very good at communications and raising the public profile of barristers generally.
I hope this short summary gives you some reassurance that there are many practitioners tirelessly working on your behalf trying to get clarification and urgent robust guidance so that we can all keep as safe as possible at this difficult time whilst still assisting in keeping the Criminal Justice System going.
We and the other Practitioner Groups are doing our best to keep everyone updated through email, our website and Twitter as and when we are finding out information. The position keeps changing rapidly as government advice changes. Twitter appears to be the fastest information channel at present and we would invite you to follow us @lccsa.
Please do keep sending your questions, ideas and concerns to us and we will continue to feed these through to The Law Society even if we are not able at this time to respond to you all individually.
Kerry Hudson
President LCCSA