Monday, 13 October 2014

The Tuesday Truth

Otterburn Gambaccini and Magna Carta



We do not apologise for reiterating the need for everyone involved in criminal justice to respond to this Consultation.

The Ministry of Justice website states as follows “We are now consulting on the reports undertaken by Otterburn Legal Consulting and KPMG (including MOJ’s response to the analysis) of findings, assumptions in their analysis, as well as a number of duty provider contracts that should be tendered in the forthcoming procurement exercise by Otterburn Legal Consulting and KPMG.”

 Amazingly, Otterburn Legal consulting whose report is the subject of this Consultation, have taken the highly unusual step of responding to the consultation itself. This demonstrates not just the degree of professional dismay that the expert authors have clearly experienced but also the high stakes involved in the Consultation; no less than the fate of criminal defence in England and Wales.

 In the report,

Otterburn state that the Duty Provider Contract Additional Information published by the Legal Aid Agency in February 2014 included a reference to the findings from Otterburn that bidding organisations would employ at least one full-time fee earner with relevant experience of crime work for every £83,000 of the indicative contract value.

 Otterburn state in their response that this was not the finding of their report, this was a calculation made by the Ministry of Justice based on certain figures included in the Otterburn report.  Otterburn state that they do not agree with the way that the figures have been calculated which imposes an artificial constraint on firms’ ability to develop different operational models.

 Otterburn then comment on the assumptions adopted by KPMG. Otterburn make clear that they had no input into the design of the KPMG financial models or the underlying assumptions that these were based on.  Otterburn say that they were very clear that the assumption that firms would give up 50% of own client work if awarded a duty solicitor contract “was incorrect and would not happen”.   Of course not as all firms rely on their own clients to generate the majority of their profits.

 Otterburn also describes as unsafe; the KPMG assumption that work levels would remain constant for the purpose of modelling future contract sizes.

 They also take issue with the MOJ’s assumption that a 5% profit margin was unnecessary, and call it “highly imprudent”. They accuse the MoJ of adopting a “high risk assumption”. 

 All of the above may appear boring and technical, but it is of real importance. Of greatest significance is the fact that Otterburn whose Report we are being asked to respond to have now undermined key figures, analysis and assumptions which underpin the Consultation.  This is a damning verdict not only on the narrow issues the MoJ wants us to consider but also more crucially on the validity of the model that the MoJ wants us all to accept as a fait accompli.

 Otterburn has had the integrity to speak truth to power. We must honour that integrity by responding.


 Police Bail

This week the police announced that they will be taking no further action against Paul Gambaccini who had been on bail for nearly a year.   There were the usual indignant voices in the press complaining about the injustice of this man being on bail for so long  without knowing whether he was going to be charged with criminal offences.

 Paul Gambaccini is the thin edge of the wedge.  There are many, many more on bail for very long periods of time, their lives effectively on hold, and for every suspect who is on bail for months at a time there are victims equally subjected to the agonising wait, not knowing whether they will be giving evidence or not, not knowing what is going to happen to their case.

The Law Society has recently been extremely vocal about how extended bail periods, and I read recently that even where a decision is finally made and suspects are charged some cases are being listed in 2016!

 We need to stand up for every part of the criminal justice system that is under threat; for prisons, for probation, for victims, for suspects, for defendants, for the police, and for the courts.

 In February 2015, Mr Grayling seeks to showcase our legal system to the world, the flim flam of pageant a mask concealing the dismantling of our justice system.

We must show the world the current state of our justice system, a 21st Century edifice with early 20th Century access to justice.

Mr Grayling has degraded or traduced every element of our justice system including the panoply of rights that the post war generation introduced.  Independence, rigour, access and choice all gone or going. This is what the world needs to hear.




1 comment:

  1. we should not lose sight of the millions removed from scope in civil law .The relentless attack on rates of pay is directly connected to removing the resources available to ordinary people who have cause to challenge to actions and decisions of the state and who without public support cannot access the justice system .