All CBA members should have received the CBA Chairman's Message last week from Tony Cross QC.
In this incredibly important email, the CBA Executive agrees that we are now in a "watershed moment". The damage of the new Duty Provider Scheme (the "two-tier contracts" issue) is outlined, a policy which endangers access to representation, the quality within the solicitor branch of the profession, and ultimately the independent criminal Bar by reducing the number of duty contracts from 1600 to no more than 527.
It therefore asks its membership the following "yes or no" question:
"Would you support action, 'No returns' and 'Days of Action' if the new government decides to proceed with the Duty Provider Scheme, reducing the number of solicitor providers by at least two thirds?"
This is a question referring to the actions of the Bar and does not refer to collective action with solicitors. However, this is not merely an issue which only affects solicitors. We remind independent criminal barristers of their unique position within the criminal justice system, which made the "no returns" action so successful. The CLSA and the LCCSA will support criminal barristers in this action.
For any of you with doubts left as to whether this is a fight only for solicitors, even the CBA has stated that the two-tiered scheme will "destroy the quality of legal representation within the Criminal Justice System", that "[t]he most able and committed young lawyers will have no future, and the independent bar will collapse."
We know that the UK is going to be hit hard by the next 5 years of a Tory government and that justice will be hit just as hard with Michael Gove as the new Lord Chancellor. Now is the time to rally and to take direct action to save legal aid. Return to No Returns! Save Legal Aid. If not you, who? If not now, when?
We urge all of our Haldane members who are also members of the CBA to vote YES HERE. (We remind you that only CBA members can vote.)
The closing deadline to vote is 5.00pm Tuesday 19 May 2015. Please vote early so you do not forget!
If you are a practising criminal barrister at the Bar of England and Wales and you wish to join the CBA in order to vote in this consultation survey, please contact Aaron Dolan at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to join or re-join the CBA.