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Editor's blog

A turbulent Christmas

3 Dec 18

Depressing divisions and a lack of clear thinking dominate the Brexit scene. But (stop press) there is something positive in the official reaction to the legal aid review

What must the rest of the world think of the UK at the moment? Our political leaders remind me of nothing so much as a set of panicked cartoon characters throwing a bomb with a fizzing fuse from one to the next, with none of them apparently having the thought of trying to put it out, as the clock ticks down to the appointed Brexit day with (as I write) no sign of any consensus, or even a majority view, on what to do next.

What has government of this country come to, when the Prime Minister insists her negotiated Brexit deal is the best thing for the country even as her Chancellor's figures show economic decline following Brexit, with or without a deal? And what is the point of the Prime Minister touring the country to win support for a deal she has no intention of putting to the popular vote?

Yet opposition politicians who have professed support for a “People's Vote” have yet to accept what appears to me the logical consequence: accept the Withdrawal Agreement on the express condition that it is put to a referendum, with the other alternatives being Remain, and a no-deal Brexit. What other options could now be put to the people? And what other legal avenues exist to secure a vote?

It is deeply depressing that in this time of national crisis, the political scene is dominated by loud factions seemingly determined to defend their corner to the death – at what cost to the country?

In the face of this turmoil, life goes on. Some will wonder what all the fuss is really about; others may notice effects for example on businesses, the property market, or the ability to hire. There are bound to be consequences; but it will be years before we can assess them fully.

Stop press

The very afternoon this month's issue was completed, the Scottish Government gave its long-awaited response to the recommendations in Martyn Evans's review of legal aid – principally, in terms of firm commitments, the 3% across-the-board fee increase from April 2019, and the undertaking to work with the profession on devising an evidence based model for agreeing fee levels longer term. The 3% has not exactly had legal aid lawyers dancing in the streets (no surprise, after so many years of real-terms cuts), but dare I suggest that the greater prize is the prospect of a stable arrangement for keeping fees under review. If ever there was a time to engage constructively with the Government, it is now. Legal aid lawyers have been forced to play a long game; may the review yet turn out to work to their advantage longer term. Season's greetings, everyone.


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Blog archive

3 Dec 18

A turbulent Christmas

Depressing divisions and a lack of clear thinking dominate the Brexit scene. But (stop press) there is something positive in the official reaction to the legal aid review

7 Nov 18

Put to the test

The Society's position as regulator will come under renewed scrutiny following the Roberton report, but the report itself should equally be subjected to proper scrutiny

9 Oct 18

Under siege

After the extra money announced for prosecutors and then the police, something has to be done now for the defence sector

10 Sep 18

Programme for action?

How much can we expect to happen through the Scottish Government's Programme for Government?

6 Aug 18

No deal, no say?

The arguments for a second EU referendum apply with greater force in a "no deal" scenario

9 Jul 18

System under threat

Items in this month's issue illustrate increasing threats to the rule of law and the integrity of the legal system

11 Jun 18

Speaking out

The benefit sanctions system has drawn some unusually sharp comments from the Society, but the need for such strictures is likely to increase

8 May 18

After Windrush

The treatment of those of Caribbean origin shows a need for the law to be rebalanced

9 Apr 18

Mind the gap

Do the Gender Pay Gap Regulations provide enough useful information to justify their approach?

12 Mar 18

Case to be made

If the independent legal aid review could not find evidence to support a general rise in fees, what should the response be?

9 Feb 18

Crunch time

The independent reports due in the next few months will be an indication of how the profession is seen from outside

9 Jan 18

Hold tight for 2018

Get set for another rollercoaster ride through the year