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23/01/2008

More in sorrow than in anger

or rather, a good slapping.

A sequel to the last post on barristers refusing to sign up for the VHCC contract. A hat tip to Charon QC for the link to the response of the Chairman of the Bar, Tim Dutton to Richard Collins’ letter from the LSC accusing barristers of anti-competitive collusion (the LSC letter can be found here).

Charon describes it as ‘extraordinary’. I think this is understatement. It is an extended duffing up of the hapless LSC executive director, beginning with a number of legal points on which Collins is ‘simply incorrect’ and moving on to the reasons why the whole fiasco is the LSC’s fault in both the organisation of the tender process and in the bid level set.

The letter points out that the first time barristers could fully see what they were signing up for was 7 January 2008. Unsurprisingly, they don’t like it. Pausing only to note the slight inconsistency between the LSC’s public claim on 18 January that most barristers were signing up and the letter of 17 January saying that a substantial number wouldn’t, Tim Dutton moves to regret that discussions have to take place in an atmosphere of threats and apparent attempts to put pressure on the very individuals that the LSC itself demanded should make a decision free from coercion.

A relentlessly polite two fingers up to the LSC, then, copied to Jack Straw and Lord Hunt of Legal Aid.  Maybe the LSC’s habit of making threats, either implied or overt, has rebounded.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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