Interviews · Life at the Bar · The Future

Unfortunate Sunday Quotes

quote-035-unfortunate-coincidence-parkerThe Express is expressing concern about the government’s plans – a worthwhile thing to do and a poser for those of us who had previously condemned it for its politics and interests. It is a dreadful thought that we may not have been entirely correct. But, faced with evidence, it is always necessary to reassess. That is what honest and sensible people do.

So, I want to draw attention to what is said in the penultimate paragraph of that article. In full, this is what it says:

The Justice Secretary added: “We will continue to uphold everyone’s right to a fair trial – quality assured duty solicitors and lawyers will still be available just as they are now – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look again at how the system which provides this is operated and deliver better value for the £1 billion of taxpayers’ money spent on criminal legal aid a year.”

It is a direct quote from our beloved Lord Chancellor. The part which struck me with some force was the bit that says (with my emphasis added):

quality assured duty solicitors and lawyers will still be available just as they are now

That does seem to indicate that QASA and the new proposals are linked – exactly as the Bar has been saying.

That now being seemingly confirmed direct from the horse’s mouth (oooh – so polite), this may be a good time for those at the BSB who have been saying the opposite, to reassess the position. That may be painful, but it will also be sensible and honest. I am perfectly happy to accept that our beloved LC has never said this before – but he has said it now. As Dorothy Parker said (I paraphrase) you can’t trust blokes who promise to love you.

Circumstances alter cases. It is now possible to argue, based on the evidence, that forcing QASA through will actually assist the Government to progress its plans to endanger us all. If that is even a possibility, it ought not to happen.

There may be a counter-argument. If so then, if I am sent it, I will publish it in full.

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3 thoughts on “Unfortunate Sunday Quotes

  1. Perhaps the article is referring to the QA standards solicitors currently need to possess to bid for a contract and the consultation document refers to at 4.148 (p69)?

    ‘Applicants should hold (or commit to acquire within a specified time period) a relevant quality standard (either the LAA’s Specialist Quality Mark or the Law Society’s Lexcel standard or an equivalent quality standard agreed by the LAA)’.

    It seems to me that ‘an equivalent quality standard’ doesn’t mean QASA as it will not be fully, universally implemented by the time the new contracts are let/become live and, even more significantly, QASA won’t have had time to have been fully road-tested and in acceptable working order. So, it won’t be able to be acquired ‘in a specified time period’.

    That is, of course, if anyone actually thinks that QASA will ever see the light of day.

    Incidentally, has anyone actually asked the MoJ/LAA if QASA would be acceptable as a relevant quality standard for running a criminal legal aid contract?

    So, call off the conspiracy theory; they’re talking about current, real, working QA standards and ‘lawyers will still be available as they are now’.

    Ian Dodd

    1. The point that the MoJ links quality assurance and the new proposals is clear, whichever scheme may have been in Grayling’s mind at the time. You may be right. It is the reference to fair trials that suggests QASA.

      I’m not sure that the fact that QASA won’t be road tested would ever stop the MoJ insisting on it. Nor would it stop the LAA agreeing it: this scheme is being pushed by the regulators.

      1. Simon – thanks for your speedy response.

        I think the Grayling is on record about the MoJ and QASA being two separate things. It’s a matter for the regulator and the profession, he said.

        I’ve read the PCT consultation four times and closely; I can’t find any mention of QASA.

        You say, ‘The point that the MoJ links quality assurance and the new proposals is clear’. Not to me, it isn’t; please show me the clear, unequivocal evidence.

        i’ll bet you £100 that the new contracts won’t be predicated on QASA – it’ll be SQM and Lexcel. Moreover, those solicitors who do deals with the Bar (and they will), can be expected to insist that their advocates of choice have the same QA scheme as them. For purely practical reasons.

        I’ll bet you another £100 that QASA will never see the light of day. Not only is it fatally flawed (the horse committee designed a camel) neither the Bar nor solicitors will accept it. Neither would I. Given the profession’s outright opposition to it you might think that, having lost the confidence of her flock, Baroness Deech might be ‘considering her position’. I’m not betting any money on that, though.

        Ian

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