I have been employed in this profession for over 30 years, 24 of them as a clerk to criminal sets. The result of this vote will have just as much impact upon your clerks and your support staff as it will have upon you as individual barristers. Your survival defines our survival and it is for that reason that I feel that I can comment here upon the current debate My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of my Chambers. 9KBW have however been and continue to be very supportive of the opposition to the cuts in their entirety, not just in respect of the fee cuts. In my view that is what the ballot should be about – a deal for the whole profession. not just one half of it.
Im all argued out on it. Everyone that is in the NO camp either ignores or skates around the impact of the two tier contract proposals. That combined with the current cuts will decimate firms. A No vote will send out a message from the Bar to Solicitors that they are on their own and split the profession again. Those saying they will support solicitors by refusing to take cases that have been picked up by one firm because another firm would not apply for a rep order will find themselves in the minority I believe. A No vote will say to many that the action is over at least until the MOJ comes after the Bar again, which it will because it knows it can win. The Bar promised Solicitors “Shoulder to Shoulder, Your fight is our fight!” Not “Your fight is our fight when it suits us but you are dumped when it does not!”
Solicitors need the Bar NOW if the continued campaign is to work, We need to fight with them against the current cuts and the contract proposals , It IS the Bars fight just as much as it is theirs. They lose you lose. If you let them down and say No many will believe its the last straw and they cant win when the Bar has backed out. Its no good saying to them you can trust us to support you in the fight because that’s just it – they cant.
All this fighting, all those cases shifted or briefs lost, clients left to fend for themselves while the profession walked out, all those who sacrificed so much in returning VHCC’s all this worry and fear yet the profession stood strong. If this vote is No then what on earth was it all for – a years stay of execution if that?.
The loss of the trust placed in the Bar and trust that I fear will never return, all for a deal that we wont go bust this year, or not at least until our solicitors do.When I am sitting at my desk telling my guvs that another firm has gone under and no they wont be working this week – again. I hope all will remember that the Bar did this to itself.