The MoJ Confrontation

Well the first thing to say is the sound system was rubbish. No microphones for audience. Difficult to hear what was said.
Second the message isn’t clear. The main man from MoJ said competitive tendering was the only game in town but the model was up for discussion. However “the boy” said that anything was up for debate as Ministers decided what to do and PCT was model the Legal Aid Policy team came up with.
None of the LAP team had any legal experience. So what?

Well their “understanding” of the criminal justice system was based on what they’d read. What a shame the MoJ don’t talk to lawyers before they dream up the solution. PCT is based on idea there are too many lawyers. Somehow this affects the legal aid budget. Quite how is still not clear. The answer seems to be that some firms have said (when? To whom? which ones?) that there are too many firms for too little work. This is the very same stuff spouted for BVT which was determined to be unworkable.

Apparently the brief to LAP team is to save £220 million.

However in a market priced on number of cases the MoJ can’t control costs as MoJ don’t control number of defendants.

So plan is to take those with more than £37500 out of legal aid. These people will have to pay for their defence. But if acquitted this innocent person will only be reimbursed if they have applied for legal aid and been refused. Even then they shall be reimbursed at legal aid rates. So someone who is acquitted could face financial ruin. Does that sound right??

What is the incentive to build a business under PCT?

Why use the independent Bar at all?
Ring fencing the Bar leaves them open to annihilation.
PCT will result in using “cheap labour” so quality will suffer.

So the LAP team have created a proposal which will interfere with the market for no good reason. There’s no evidence to support the model proposed. The hypothesis is flawed. There’s no guarantee of volume just of share.
The LAP team aren’t thinking about other areas of CJS so thinking is disjointed.

What about “choice”, one of the pillars of the Big Society?
The LAP team don’t seem to get it at all. Nor do they see the connection with quality.

The other main problem with this Confrontation process is that the MoJ representatives won’t discuss anything not in proposal even though MoJ have suggested we come up with alternatives.

The man in charge and his side kick “the boy” were insistent that submitting responses to the consultation was the key message.

The real key message is the the MoJ is repeating same old rubbish spouted in favour of BVT and have no evidence that what they are proposing will deliver savings or sustainable businesses( although what sustainability has to do with Government is beyond me).

The timescales are unrealistic.

This process is a waste of time and a Judicial Review waiting to happen. The trouble is that the LAP team aren’t really interested in proper discussion. It’s about time MoJ grew up and talked to us about real solutions to real problems and had a holistic approach. Instead of thinking about and writing proposals it would be better if MoJ showed some respect and talked to us.

The Confrontation process is a farce.

Michael Robinson
Emmersons Solicitors

2 thoughts on “The MoJ Confrontation

  1. At the Nottingham meeting, I posed the following:

    “So, let me get this straight …. you haven’t spoken to any solicitors, or barristers, or judges and you’ve not visited any courts. Would it be true to say that this consultation has been drawn up by people who have no idea what they are talking about?”

    The answer? …

    “That’s not entirely true!”

  2. Its not entirely true because they are effectively repeating what Labour and the Legal Services Commission proposed in about 2009/10. The author of Chapter 4 on criminal legal aid worked for the LSC back then.

    What is clear is that the LAA/MoJ (Axis of Evil) dont wish to address the real costs drivers because that would be more of a political minefield. better to perpetuate the myth of fat cat legal aid lawyers and that costs are spiraling out of control and to promote fee cuts because public believe the fat-cat myth. Also better to keep referring to criminals and offenders rather than those who are acquitted (current stats suggest 58% acquitted in Crown Court trial).

    Never mind choice of solicitor, local access to legal advice or the quality of the advice and never mind the increased costs on other budgets resulting from cuts.

    How does Lord McNally sleep at night?

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