Is this the last chance for Criminal legal Aid?
Euphemisms are used to hide the truth by those wishing to protect their interests. The Law Society Council members are experts in euphemistic management speak. They use it to undermine the criminal law firms and solicitors whose subscriptions keep it in comfortable establishment grandeur.
Let us look at the Law Society’s observations on the commendable call for a vote on the proposition: “That the meeting has no confidence in the ability of Nicholas Fluck, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, and Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive” , to be debated on 17th December 2013 at Chancery Lane. We will be there and we hope all solicitors practising criminal law in London and elsewhere will attend and support the motion.
Let us remember what the current MOJ proposals mean. There will be a cut of at least 20% in fee income from criminal work. The thousand firms that lose their “Duty solicitor” contract will have a reduction of 40% in their case loads. So a small firm with a turnover of say £500,000 will see the income they receive from criminal work reduce to £240,000. That means closing down.
The Law Society Governing Council refers to a “rapid and severe consolidation of the supplier base”. What this actually means is that up to a thousand firms will go out of business and their solicitors will be unemployed. The Council refer to “the small number of larger firms” who are “well disposed” to this. The feeling is that the larger firms have had the Councils ear – why else would the MOJ be so sure that the integrity of the Criminal Justice System can be maintained?
The Council in an open admission of its entrenched views on the subject calls James Parry the proposer of the motion, a “dissident solicitor”. Dissidents are inextricably linked to those who criticized the practices or the authority of the communist states of the Cold War era. Even a dictionary definition of a “dissident” as someone who challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution lays bare the arrogance of the Councils views.
Finally the council claim a “binary choice” of engage or not. They have forgotten that the world is not exclusively digital and that analogue choices are available. They could canvas the views off all their members to present to the MOJ. They could make it clear that they would support a Court and Police Station boycott or other industrial action. They could have had the humility to accept that perhaps they do not know best. They could still eat humble pie and withdraw from negotiations but that would be a euphemism too far.
Vote them out. The President and Chief executive have failed to represent the interests of the vast majority of Criminal Law firms and do not deserve the support of the members.