Haulage firm arm bids for controversial contracts to provide lawyers in criminal trials amid protests from legal profession
A subsidiary of the haulage firm Eddie Stobart has emerged as a leading contender in bidding for a new generation of criminal legal aid contracts that would deprive defendants of the right to choose their own solicitor.
Lawyers are planning protests outside parliament in opposition to the Ministry of Justice’s proposals, which aim to cut fees, reduce funding of judicial reviews and save a further £220m out of the legal aid budget.
The row within the legal profession over the plans is intensifying. The head of Stobart Barristers has described traditional law firms who rely on legal aid as “‘wounded animals waiting to die” and accused rival lawyers of sending his firm messages urging it to “Truck Off”.
The MoJ’s most controversial proposal is the introduction of competitive tendering in contracts to provide lawyers for defendants in criminal trials.
In order to guarantee winning firms receive a sufficient number of cases each year, the MoJ is proposing to remove the right of defendants funded by legal aid to select their own solicitor.
The arrival of Stobart Barristers last year has reinforced fears among the wider legal profession. Stobart operates by connecting clients directly to barristers, cutting out the need for solicitors.
Trevor Howarth, its legal director, said the firm would be bidding for the new criminal defence contracts. “We can deliver the service at a cost that’s palatable for the taxpayer,” he said. “Our business model was developed with this in mind.
“We at Stobart are well known for taking out the waste and the waste here is the duplication of solicitors going to the courtroom. At the moment there are 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn’t use 10 trucks to deliver one product.”
Howarth said he had received emails from solicitors with the heading “Truck Off”. He added: “I have already taken calls from barristers [on our panels] who say they have been contacted by solicitors telling them they won’t use them again if they take instructions from us.”
On removing a defendant’s right to choose their solicitor, Howarth said: “I don’t think the lack of choice is damaging. [People are not] entitled to access justice with an open cheque. No one is stopping them paying for their own choice of solicitor.”
Barristers and solicitors held a protest meeting in Manchester last month. Another protest meeting by lawyers is being organised for 22 May outside parliament.
Under the plans, defendants on legal aid will no longer be able to choose which lawyer represents them in a police station or a magistrate’s court. They will still be able to choose which barrister represents them at crown court.
Paul Harris, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, warned that the quality of legal representation would decline. “How is anyone facing serious criminal allegations going to feel being represented by a haulage company?” he asked. “The individual will have no choice. The state will prosecute you and then choose your lawyer. By removing choice, providers will have less incentive to compete on quality. We will end up with far more miscarriages of justice.”
The Bar Council, which represents barristers, has launched an online petition under the slogan “Say No to Cut Price Justice”. Maura McGowan QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: “It is against the public interest to introduce a system where legal services are provided on cost alone, by the lowest bidder, and not on quality … where you have no choice of who represents you.”
Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s justice spokesman, told the Law Society Gazette: “No one wants a second-rate system where you are forced to accept whatever representation you are given regardless of quality.”
An MoJ spokesperson said: “Quality-assured lawyers will still be available. Quality standards will be assessed as part of the tender process and we will ensure they are maintained by the lawyers who win contracts. We will continue to uphold everyone’s right to a fair trial, but with £1bn a year spent on criminal legal aid we have to look again at how to deliver better value for every penny of taxpayers’ money spent.”
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Medicago and IDRI Reports Positive Results for its Phase I Clinical Trial for an H5N1 Vaccine
QUEBEC CITY, and SEATTLE, WA, April 17, 2013
- All three configurations of adjuvant and route of administration
exceeded the three CHMP criteria-
QUEBEC CITY, and SEATTLE, WA, April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Medicago
Inc. (TSX: MDG; OTCQX: MDCGF), a biopharmaceutical company focused on
developing highly effective and competitive vaccines based on
proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs)
and The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), a Seattle-based
non-profit research organization that is a leading developer of
adjuvants used in vaccines combating infectious disease, today reported
positive interim results from a Phase I clinical trial for an H5N1
Avian Influenza VLP vaccine candidate (“H5N1 vaccine”). The results
were announced at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington, DC. The
H5N1 vaccine was found to be safe and well-tolerated and induced a
solid immune response exceeding the three CHMP (Committee for Medicinal
Products for Human Use) immunogenicity criteria for licensure of
influenza vaccines. The vaccine was tested in three different
configurations: using IDRI’s Glucopyranosyl Lipid A (“GLA”) formulated
adjuvant, given both intramuscularly and intradermally, and using alum
intramuscularly. All three configurations exceeded the CHMP criteria.
“These positive U.S. clinical trial results
Court of appeal to decide if seven-year term handed to serial confidence trickster Achilleas Kallakis was not long enough
The attorney general is appeal against the seven-year jail sentence handed down to Achilleas Kallakis, 44, a serial confidence trickster, claiming it was unduly lenient.
The court of appeal will hear the matter next month alongside a plea from jailed City trader Nick “Beano” Levene, 48, who will argue that the 13-year sentence he received last November was too severe. The two sentences were handed down in the space of two months at Southwark crown court, where judges are used to dealing with complex fraud prosecutions.
Offences committed by Levene and Kallakis were different, but the two appeals raise questions about consistency of sentencing by judges in Serious Fraud Office cases.
Kallakis, a former Croydon travel agent, duped banks out of more than £750m, posing as a Mayfair property tycoon.
Together with an old university friend, Alex Williams, Kallakis was found guilty in January of two counts of conspiracy to defraud. Williams, an expert forger, was given a five-year jail term.
The verdict came at the end of a second four-month trial brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
An earlier trial had been marred by a suspected attempt to nobble the jury and was eventually abandoned when Williams attempted to commit suicide. The attorney general is seeking a longer sentence in relation to Williams also.
In his sentencing remarks in January, Judge Andrew Goymer suggested that lenders defrauded by Kallakis – Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Scotland – “do bear some degree of responsibility” for Britain’s largest mortgage fraud. He described them as having “undoubtedly acted carelessly and imprudently”.
Among the many warning signs the banks failed to spot was that, under previous names, Kallakis and Williams had past convictions for a forgery scam involving the sale of bogus manorial titles to Americans.
The appeal is set for 12 April.
Victims of Levene’s £32m Ponzi fraud included Richard Caring, owner of upmarket restaurants The Ivy and Le Caprice and Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, founders of Stagecoach.
Levene had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of fraud, one count of false accounting and one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception.
A judge in the US has ordered $1bn in damages awarded to Apple last year against Samsung be cut by 40% and set a new trial.
Read more from the original source: US judge orders cut in Apple award
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Fifa says goal-line technology will be used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, after successful Club World Cup trial.
Here is the original post: World Cup to use goal-line system
SUNNYVALE, CA–(Marketwire – Feb 19, 2013) – Infinera (NASDAQ: INFN), a leading provider of Digital Optical Networks, announced today the completion of its first ultra-long-haul lab trial in Russia with FSUE ZNIIS, Russia’s Central Science and Research Telecommunications Institute and the integrator of the latest technological advances in telecommunications in Russia. This trial demonstrates Infinera’s ability to supply scalable, efficient and high capacity optical networking solutions to meet the needs of service providers in Russia.
See the article here: Infinera and FSUE ZNIIS Demonstrate 500 Gb/s Super-Channel Transmission With Infinera DTN-X Providing up to 8 Tb/s Scalability
Circadian Technologies Ltd. has filed a Home Country News Release – VGX-100 Phase 1 Clinical Trial Program Update To view the full release click here (link to PDF).
Read the original here: Circadian Technologies Ltd. (CKDXY: OTC Link) | Home Country News Release – VGX-100 Phase 1 Clinical Trial Program Update