This year’s LAPG conference took place in Leeds on 7th October. We were proud to be a sponsor of an event which as always was inspiring, informative and enjoyable in equal measure.
In the morning there was a passionate key note speech from Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, who warned politicians that ‘we will not cowed – not by your cuts, or by your spin or by your cumbersome computer systems’. She also highlighted the issue of indefinite administrative detention of immigrants, the treatment that they are subjected to and the need to make everyone aware of what was happening.
Shaun McNally, Chief Executive of the LAA, spoke about how he felt that the agency had made progress in the last 4 years, adding that in his 30yrs as a civil servant the LAA was the best organisation that he had worked for. He called for an ‘adult relationship’ between legal aid practitioners and the LAA, and advised that he was willing to listen to providers; he is unlikely to be short of offers of feedback. More ominously however he stated he had to find £11m of savings over the rest of the spending review period.
One particular concern raised during the day was the ‘embarrassment clause’ in criminal contracts and its possible future inclusion in civil contracts; it was confirmed that the Public Law Project had sent a pre-action protocol letter on behalf of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association regarding the clause.
A post lunch highlight was provided by Jawaid Luqmani’s very entertaining and unique run through the type of immigration and asylum work that remains in scope post LASPO. The day also saw a wide variety of workshops including a session on time and stress management, a family law update, a panel discussion on current issues in crime and two costs workshops involving our Head of Legal Aid David Smith.
So where does this leave legal aid practitioners? The view from the panel in the afternoon was that it was extremely important to continue to do what you do and to not stop challenging injustice.