25 March 2020
The outcome of which we can share:
The main points are:
LAA has been asked to confirm that full PS fee is payable if the matter is handled by phone. That would mean of course more than just an advice call. So disclosure is emailed or seen at station, client is fully advised by phone and/ or you are present on the phone for the interview. Response expected within 48 hours.
Wet and digital signatures. You will have seen the update on yesterday's guidance. LAA will accept no signature if circumstances dictate ( which will be in almost every case at PS or court I would guess as no one is going to be exchanging bits of paper and pens ) provided there's a note as to why and a supervisors signature . The latter is considered to be overkill, so TLS raising that with LAA
What is happening around the country with Mags lists varies it seems from area to area. In some places, the courts have contacted sols to say everything (apart from custody, bail breaches etc etc) is being postponed for 3 weeks, May, June. Other areas ( like here for example have just put something out for cases only this week , other areas saying they'll update at 9am daily . ...wholly unsatisfactory because nothing is going to change in 24 hours . Why don't they just bite the bullet and put everything (apart from above) off for a couple of months? TLS is raising this with them
Everyone will be interested in the financial aspects. LAA is apparently looking at cash flow problems and thinking about interim payments. TLS is very interested to hear about any examples of firms laying people off (i.e. permanently not just on a temp basis) , closing, going out of business and so on . Please let me know if you hear of any and I will forward to Richard Miller. TLS making reps to LAA about the economic crisis facing LA firms.
There was much discussion about a suitable police station protocol. There are protocols that are being drafted with some police forces. They follow these lines, is it necessary to interview? So summary only, public order, drink drive and cases where there is sufficient evidence to charge (e.g. complainant has 100 calls from ex who is on a restraining order) no need to interview really, so if unnecessary, then either charge or RUI .If necessary to I/V then what kind of I/V. Can it be done remotely? If yes, then important that not only lawyer is remote but also the Police officer. Some may worry that if this became a protocol now, then after the crisis it will become the norm. There is a categorical no to this, in that the Police will only agree it as a temp measure. And as someone said, just because I might now agree to not hugging my parents, doesn't mean that I'm agreeing never to do it again. This protocol is for the safety of us and our employees.