The boycott by defence lawyers protesting the imposition of the 18.5% fee cut has been called off as a ‘gesture of goodwill’. In a joint statement by the Criminal Law Solicitors Association and London Criminal Courts Association published last Friday, the two groups explained their reasons for calling off the action without any concession by the government. ‘Although no offer to settle the issue has yet been made, as a gesture of goodwill and recognising the importance of this engagement we firmly believe that the time is right to suspend the action with immediate effect,’ the groups said.
In today’s Tuesday Truth blog, CLSA committee member Zoe Gascoyne insisted that there would be ‘no deals and no capitulation’. ‘We understand that there are some who call for a continuation of the action however the suspension allows for a period of reflection,’ she wrote. ‘To allow a response to the negotiations this far and to consider what steps may be required in the future. There are times when action is necessary and there are times when negotiation should be allowed to take place with clean hands.’
Gascoyne reported that the representative groups met last week with the Ministry of Justice for a third time since the dispute began to discuss four specific proposals to make savings instead of the imposition of a second 8.75% cut. ‘It is clear that the MoJ are taking the suggestions seriously and have embarked upon some number crunching before any final decisions can be made,’ she added.
The CLSA/ LCCSA statement about their ‘strategic withdrawal’ is reproduced below.
For 52 days solicitors and barristers across the country have stood firm against the second cut. In recent weeks, the leaders of the practitioner groups have had the opportunity to engage with the MoJ and by so doing, have been able to provide ideas for long terms savings as a direct alternative to a cut in rates. Although no offer to settle the issue has yet been made, as a gesture of goodwill and recognising the importance of this engagement we firmly believe that the time is right to suspend the action with immediate effect.
By doing so we hope the relationship which has now been established will continue into the future. There are many challenges ahead and the engagement to date is a sign that those challenges can be debated constructively in a receptive atmosphere.We recognise that this has been a very difficult time for those participating in the action and we are grateful to those who have stood firm in support of their principles
We also thank the CBA for their involvement in this action and in doing so recognise the immense sacrifice made by many on both sides of the profession .
We have surveyed our members over the course of 72 hours and the mandate is to suspend action. We look forward to a continuing open dialogue with the government and will keep our members appraised.
Bill Waddington CLSA, Jon Black LCCSA
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