Winning the Case for Criminal Legal Aid Update

  • 16/01/2014

Following on from the Law Society SGM on the 17th December 2013, at which the resolution brought by Mr Parry was carried, albeit by only the narrowest of margins, The Law Society – its President and Officers, recognised the need to engage more often and more effectively with its members. Part of that engagement was the invitation to local Law Society Presidents to participate in a webinar on the 15th January 2014 which I undertook on behalf of our President, David Joseph. A summary of the comments is to be circulated by the Law Society in due course.

The President acknoweldged that the Society had not been public enough in its campaining however the Society had felt that the priority had been to influence the MOJ and having created a resaltioship with them can now use that position to apply pressure upon them.

A number of questions had been emailed to the panel in advance of the webinar including

”In the light of the vote of no confidence and the recent Oxford Economics Report, does the Law Society still support the dual contract idea, of own and duty contracts”

The President’s response was that the Law Society had always advocated for a single contract for any firm which met the minimum standards. The Government has however been determined to reduce the supplier base. On legal advice the Law Society were not in a position to reject two tier contracts and on that basis the aim was to improve the proposals which were on the table and this included the use of formal and informal consortia. The Law Society wish to ensure that the maximum number of its members can participate.

 A further question was levied at the panel that the Society is too London centric and what did the Law Society intend to do for the regions.

 The President stressed that both he and the Officers are travelling the length and breadth of the country holding Roadshows and engaging with local Law Societies. They confirmed that they are happy to accept any invitation to speak and also reminded us of our own local Law Society Representatives who are accessible and appointed to put forward local views.

 The impression I was left with at the conclusion was that the Society has acknowledged its failing, they will continue to press the government and that there is a genuine wish to engage with the Profession.

 If anyone has any issues which they wish to raise or discuss then please contact your local Law Society national Council Member – Steve Kuncewicz at  [email protected] or Nigel Day at Nigel Day ([email protected])  or myself, Louise Straw at [email protected]

Louise Straw, Burton Copeland
Vice President, Manchester Law Society