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Sunday
Aug092015

Industrial Action: Monitoring the Effects

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers has campaigned for years for direct action by the profession to defend access to justice.  Direct action is currently ongoing amongst criminal law solicitors and barristers. 

It is essential that we learn the impact of the action.  Alongside grassroots campaigns and other professional bodies, the Criminal Bar Association is playing a role in organising the action.  They have set up a monitoring system to establish the impact that action is having so far.  This is set out below.

No Returns

If you returned a case due to a diary clash, we would invite you to try and follow it up, where possible, to see what became of it. Please send the information using the following form:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CBANORETURNS2015

If you have accepted a return on the 27th July or beyond, equally we would invite you to fill out the form so the action can be monitored properly . The information collected will be used simply to monitor the action and not to single people out who have chosen not to participate by accepting returns.

No legal aid order

If you are in the Crown Court and witness a defendant appearing who is not in receipt of legal aid, through the solicitors action, we would invite you to fill out the following form:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MonitoringOrders

Equally, if you are instructed in a post 1 July matter which does have a legal aid order in place, please use the same form. Again, this information is not being collected to stigmatise those who are accepting new work, but rathe to monitor just how many representation orders are being applied for.

Thursday
Jul232015

Message of solidarity from Jeremy Corbyn MP

We were pleased to recently receive this message of support from the Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn MP.

"I offer my full support to the ongoing boycott of legal aid cases by solicitors and barristers in protest at cuts to legal aid services.

The legal profession has been driven to this by the intransigence of the government. I am very worried that legal aid could totally disappear under this Government. If this happens we will have a justice system that will only be accessible to those who can afford it.

The total savings made by cutting legal aid don't even add up to very much but are already doing so much damage to our justice system. Every legal professional in this country should stand together and get behind the boycott so that the Government are forced to rethink these illogical cuts."

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Tuesday
Jul142015

International Women's Conference: Early Bird Tickets Now On Sale!

We are delighted to announce that tickets are now on sale for our conference on 28-29 November 2015.

The tickets on sale are at a special early bird rate, and will increase closer to the conference date.

Tickets with CPD accreditation will be available soon, at £80 for the weekend or £60 for a day.

For block bookings for groups of 10 or more please contact us by email at feminism@haldane.org to arrange a discount.  Equally, for those unable to pay at the lowest rate, please contact us by email at feminism@haldane.org to arrange a reduction or remission of ticket price on a case-by-case basis.

Please also email us at feminism@haldane.org if you have any childcare issues.

Ticket Type
Name on your ticket
If 1 day ticket, Sat or Sun?

Wednesday
Jul012015

Criminal Bar Association ballot on direct action

We have this afternoon sent the following message to members.

Since the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, announced his intention to press ahead with dual contracts and a further cut to fees of 8.75% (totalling 17.5% cuts in a year) meetings have been convened around England and Wales calling for a boycott of work at the new rates and a return to "no returns".

Following a meeting of lawyers in Liverpool on 25 June 2015 at which it was resolved to continue to fight the cuts, a wave of further meetings in cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, and Manchester has seen overwhelming support for refusing work at reduced rates until Gove reverses the cut. Members of the executive committee were present at one meeting in London packed with over 150 practitioners - where around 28 sets of chambers were represented - who overwhelmingly supported motions for direct action.

We believe that this momentum must be seized and that direct action should resume as soon as practicable. Unfortunately, the Criminal Bar Association refuses to heed its members. In May 96% of those who voted in a CBA ballot backed direct action. The CBA now wants to ballot its members again, with a question which presents the action already underway as only involving solicitors.

We urge you to vote "yes" in the CBA's ballot on industrial action. It is not the question we would have posed. It does not seek to oppose dual contracts. From criticising solicitors only a week ago for not acting, the CBA now seeks to frame the action as only the concern of solicitors. The CBA again is falling prey to the Ministry of Justice tactics of divide and rule. We believe in unity of purpose and unity of action. This is not solely the Bar's fight or solely the solicitors' fight; it is a fight against the Government and most importantly to protect legal aid. We must remember that above all.

We have supported direct action since these plans were announced in 2013. We support it now. No returns was devastatingly effective when initiated last year.  It brought the professions together and instilled confidence that we had something in our hands which meant we could negotiate seriously with Government.

You can vote in the CBA ballot HERE

If you are a criminal barrister who is not yet a member of the CBA you can join here.

The ballot closes on 14 July.  The next day, 15 July, is the CBA AGM. All CBA members can attend and we also invite you to go along in numbers for what may be our most crucial meeting yet.

Outside of the CBA, we must continue to organise together throughout the country. Only with local action and national co-ordination can we be properly prepared to win this struggle.

 

 

Wednesday
Jun242015

LCCSA & CSLA meeting on direct action

When the coalition government published its Transforming Legal Aid green paper in 2013 the Haldane Society was among the first to call for lawyers to take united direct action to stop the plans. More than that, we argued for a broad-based campaign bringing together lawyers, charities, trade unions, activists and the public. We worked closely with the Justice Alliance which continues to do so much to ally people and groups who care about and need legal aid. We saw the paper for what it was: a deliberate and targeted assault on a vital pillar of the welfare state.

Last year the professions achieved the previously unthinkable and organised successful days of action and a policy of no returns. We should have confidence that it can succeed once more. We opposed the deal and we condemn the Criminal Bar Association’s recent backsliding in the face of an incontrovertible mandate for further direct action. Yet we remain of the view that its role in negotiating with the Government is key. But only in unison with solicitors.

Therefore we welcome the convening of a meeting by the Criminal Law Solicitors Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association on Monday 29 June at Garden Court Chambers whose aim is to forge a common defence against these cuts. We urge all criminal law professionals to attend and to unite in our opposition to the damaging cuts and the dual contract scheme.