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News & Events

Devon Chambers to recruit a new Pupil

Devon Chambers is currently recruiting a Pupil to start in October 2014. The details of the application process can be found on the Pupillage Gateway website. Please click here for the link.

Applications must be received by 30th April 2014.

Article Published in Commercial Motor

 Devon Chambers' Head of Crime, Piers Norsworthy, has been published in the 20 March issue of Commercial Motor. The article is entitled "Collision Course".

Day of Action 7 March 2014

For too long the publicly funded arm of the legal profession has been squeezed and squeezed. Every time there are cuts we are told that there will be no more. That has simply been untrue.

We have all eagerly awaited the MOJ's decision as to how it intended to try and take greater control of us.

Following the MOJ's (eventual) announcement regarding the provision of Legal Aid funding we now know that the MOJ intends to destroy two thirds of the Solicitors firms and cut our fees across the board. Not to the trailed percentages but in practical terms to a level where many will no longer be able to continue to practise solely in this area of work.

The Criminal Bar Association has therefore asked barristers and solicitors to consider whether to participate in a further Day of Action on 7 March 2014.

Individual members of Devon Chambers have reflected upon the MOJ's published position and will not be attending court on 7 March 2014 in accordance with the CBA's protocol.

In addition, the CBA has asked that for a period of four weeks (following 7 March) members of the Bar consider not accepting "returns". We all undertand that this will cause some inevitable disruption but these are unprecendented times where doing nothing is no longer an option.

It is for individuals to choose whether to take part in this and any other future forms of protest. The individuals at Devon Chambers have decided to support this action.

Further information can be found on the Criminal Bar Association website. The site is regularly updated and includes guidance regarding both 7 March and the "no returns" policy.

If you have any questions regarding anything to do with these issues please do not hesitate to speak to one of the Devon Chambers' Clerking Team.

 

Day of Action Update

All members of Devon Chambers participated in the day of action on Friday 7th March 2014. No members attended court that day. The Ministry of Justice called the action "limited and manageable". In Truro and Plymouth, no barristers in private practice or Defence Higher Court Advocates attended court; this resulted in the huge majority of cases being adjourned until dates in the future.

The purpose behind the action was to demonstate to the Ministry of Justice the devastating effect which its proposals will have upon the administration of justice.

Piers Norsworthy was interviewed by Radio Plymouth and Jason Beal by The Herald; click here to read the article in full.

Members of Chambers used the day constructively as part of the Bar's long-standing commitment to promote interest in the law and the Criminal Justice System within the community. Scott Horner spoke to a group of students with aspirations to study law at Devonport High School for Boys. Rupert Taylor and Julia Cox spent the day at Penrice Community College, St. Austell helping the students to understand the way that the legal system impacts upon them and their studies. Jason Beal and Piers Norsworthy met with the Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Tony Hogg, and his Chief Executive, in order to discuss the implications of the governments proposals.

One Bar One Voice

Following the continued threat by the Ministry of Justice to cut Legal Aid fees the Bar Council organised a further meeting at Lincoln's Inn in order to consider the potential effects on the criminal justice system. Victoria Hoyle and Julia Cox attended the meeting which took place on 8 February 2014.

The meeting provided the opportunity to understand the current position as well as to understand what steps are currently being undertaken by the Circuit Leaders, the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association. The meeting also provided a forum at which the opinions of others as to the 'next steps' to be taken could be aired. The meeting allowed for the criminal bar, in particular, to appreciate the level of support in existence from other practice areas. The leaders of the Chancery Bar and Family Law Bar Associations were also present.

The Family Law Bar Association were extremely sympathetic having recently been subjected to significant cuts. The impact of the cuts sustained by the Family Law Bar were emphasised with reference to recent cases which highlighted how the removal of Legal Aid had the potential to lead to serious risks of injustice.

The extent of the support for the current position from the Chancery Bar was to some extent a surprise. It is significant as the Chancery Bar will be largely unaffected by any cuts which are put in place by the Ministry of Justice. However, the depth of feeling held at the Commercial Bar about the proposals resulting in injustices in the criminal courts and the loss of their criminal counterparts is noteworthy. If nothing else, it highlights just how much support there is from across the Bar. It extends to the Lord Chief Justice who had stated "survival of one bar is essential to the way we do justice".

It was not only the Bar who were represented at the meeting, Paul Harris, the former President of the LCCSA spoke about the impact upon solicitors. In particular, he outlined that this was not a fight where the Bar were supporting Solicitors or Solicitors supporting the Bar; it was quite simply a united fight to ensure that the Criminal Justice System was maintained at the current level.

The Junior Bar were represented by Hannah Evans, a third six pupil. She was described by one of her friends as 'the Government's poster girl' having worked her way to the Criminal Bar from what was Wales' largest council estate. Her point was quite simple, if the cuts are brought in, those from poorer backgrounds, who the Government want to encourage to become the Barristers of the future, will be unable to consider it as a career, as it will not be a viable option.

During the meeting, various suggestions were made as to the next steps in the fight against the Government's proposed cuts. Many suggestions revolved around further direct action although other options are being mooted. It is understood that the DPP and the Lord Chief Justice have been spoken to and are sympathetic.

It is anticipated that there will be a further announcement this week about the next step...