How does LLS support criminal defence solicitors?
The work done for the Criminal Defence Solicitors in Leeds (through a director on the Leeds Law Society board responsible for Criminal Law Liaison) has been extensive over the last couple of years. The highlights include the following:
- Leeds Crown Court has been a pilot area for s.28 hearings, digital case systems (DCS) and an early adopter of Better Case Management. Leeds Law Society’s criminal liaison director, Phil Goldberg of Minton Morrill, has attended at least 30 meetings with various agencies in order to put forward the criminal defence perspective. There are many competing interests in the mix but we have been successful in a number of areas, which has made the lives of the Criminal Defence Practitioners in Leeds (Practitioners) easier and we continue to act, especially around DCS in order to ensure that all evidence will be archived by the system. This will also enable Practitioners to recover the evidence in years to come, therefore saving storage costs and also developing the defence private section so Practitioners can use the system to communicate between themselves and counsel.
- During the contracting dispute two years ago Phil Goldberg attended two meetings with Chris Grayling (the then Justice Secretary) and advanced the position of Practitioners in Leeds and responded to the MOJ consultation.
- In addition in relation to consultations Leeds Law Society has responded to those on court closures and with the LAA on the local duty solicitor provisions.
- Leeds Law Society have been involved with the SRAs focus on “touting” in the criminal justice system and have liaised with the LAA on this issue.
- Leeds Law Society’s criminal liaison director has been appointed to the Local Criminal Justice Board as a representative of the Practitioners in Leeds.
- Most recently we have attended a workshop to map out the s28 protocol (the way vulnerable witnesses are cross examined in court) with the Recorder of Leeds. As you will be aware Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston have run a pilot for the last two years. The MoJ wanted feedback on how to improve the system before it is rolled out nationally. Although the turnout from the Practitioners was disappointing, Leeds Law Society did make sure that there were representatives in attendance to support the Recorder and to provide important feedback.
As President of Leeds Law Society, I am very proud of the level of engagement that there has been on behalf of Criminal Defence Solicitors. We will continue to do what we can to represent the interests of those who practice in that area and will make the appropriate resources available.