CBA rejects suggestions the Bar has ‘failed to offer alternatives’ to cuts

save uk justice - truck off & dieCriminal Bar Association (CBA) chair Nigel Lithman QC has robustly rejected insinuations that the Bar failed to offer the government any alternatives to criminal defence fee cuts.

Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling told the justice select committee earlier this month, ‘I have given an assurance that if people come up with alternatives, I will look at them, but no-one has.’ Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society has also waded in, challenging other practitioner groups such as the CBA to ‘articulate what is their alternative’.

However, Nigel Lithman QC, chair of the CBA, said: ‘Absolute nonsense.

‘He [Grayling] has rejected every offer we have made, and we have made plenty. We have offered him the best brains at the Bar to help him to work out what cuts to make. I made that offer at a meeting in the first week of September.

‘What I hoped for was for the Bar to make input into the criminal advocacy inquiry and at the same time for that committee to consider appropriate remuneration, and instead the Lord Chancellor has chosen to hold the inquiry after he has made the cuts. He is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.’

While the CBA, Criminal Law Solicitors Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association have fiercely contested the proposals to cut Very High Cost Cases by 30% and impose a 17.5% cut in fees across the board, the Law Society has taken a more conciliatory approach. This has angered many criminal law solicitors, some of whom have accused the Law Society of ‘appeasement’ and ‘surrender’.

Hudson’s defence, set out in an open letter on the subject this month, is that professional bodies need to ‘engage’ with the Justice Secretary rather than simply oppose.

Is it fair to say that the Bar did not engage with the Lord Chancellor over this?

Lithman dismisses this suggestion as ‘absolute rubbish’. He said he is due to meet Grayling on Monday with ‘a group of six barristers of all seniorities and both sexes’ to discuss the reforms.

He said: ‘There is a depth of talent at the Bar that can look right across the spectrum of cases from cradle to grave to look at inefficiencies that can be tackled.’

Lithman said Grayling had told him he wants to make £24m of cuts to criminal advocacy, adding: ‘In seeking to save £24m he is driving away the best barristers and will leave the public deprived of anyone of any quality.’

Meanwhile barristers and other advocates are planning a boycott of criminal cases. Will this be going ahead as planned in the next few weeks?

Lithman said: ‘A step by step process is being implemented.’

A rally against the cuts will take place at Inner Temple on 16 November.

 

There are 1 comments

  1. “Chancellor of the Exchequer Chris Grayling told the justice select committee earlier this month”

    Chancellor?! At least he’s out of the MoJ…

    Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *