3 Temple Gardens response to Thursday 27th announcements by the Criminal Bar Association, Circuits and Bar Council
We note Thursday's announcements by the Criminal Bar Association, Circuits and Bar Council, as well as the intense debate, which those announcements have engendered.
The individual members at 3 Temple Gardens have agreed that it is essential that our views are made crystal clear and that we spell out our position.
Members of 3 Temple Gardens will continue to refuse to do Very High Cost Cases at the reduced rates unilaterally forced upon the profession during the "consultation" process.
Further, we make it clear that our Solicitor colleagues have our full support – 3 Temple Gardens will be actively supporting the Solicitors' two days of action of 31st March and 1st April by declining to accept instructions in matters in the Magistrates' Courts on those dates. In addition, we will decline to accept returns of instruction for any hearing in the Crown Court that cannot be covered by a Higher Court Advocate because they have elected not to work on those two days.
All members of 3 Temple Gardens have clear and substantial concerns as to the future of the Criminal Justice System and as to the effect of the proposed cuts on Access to Justice in this country. We do not consider that the Ministry of Justice has any interest in ensuring the best viable representation, but rather is driven by ideology and Treasury-led fiscal considerations. The entirety of the proposals – cuts, restructuring of the Solicitors business model and attacks on Judicial Review – are inimical to justice and will prove disastrous to the wider public interest.
To that end, 3 Temple Gardens joins with other Chambers to call upon the Criminal Bar Association and the Circuits to engage with the rank and file to allow a full debate of the current position and the proposed agreement with the Ministry of Justice. We echo, much of what has been said on Social Media, that whilst the concessions wrung from the Ministry thus far are to be welcomed, the fundamental basis for our action – access to justice for all – does not appear adequately to have been safeguarded. We intend to continue the fight to secure access to justice for all, and for a viable future in Criminal legal aid for both our solicitor colleagues and the Independent Bar.
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