The Criminal Appeal Lawyers Association held its annual conference last weekend. The theme of the event was “Miscarriages of justice, who cares?
The association was formed in 2002 with a view to promoting better representation for those persons seeking to appeal their convictions or sentences.
On the 10th year anniversary it was felt appropriate to discuss this topic particularly in light of the public meeting arranged by CALA at the House of Commons on the 6th July 2011. The topic for discussion then was "The failure to compensate victims of miscarriages of justice - time for government action". The meeting was chaired by Lord Martin Thomas QC.
The speakers at the conference discussing this topic where Professor John Spencer and Tim Owen QC.
Dr Adrian Grounds gave a very informative speech in relation to the psychological impact of miscarriage upon the victims and their families.
It was also confirmed that it’s CALA’s intention to draft a private members Bill on the topic to get the compensation scheme of victims of miscarriages of justice onto the agenda for discussion within Government.
Following current press releases in relation to the criticisms of the CCRC, the chair of the CCRC Richard Foster spoke to the association and Henry Blaxland QC responded from a practitioners point of view.
Steven Bird addressed the association in relation to the funding problems relating to defence practitioners and it was agreed that CALA should re-engage with the LSC to discuss the current position as there has been a hardening of attitudes to the granting of funding.
Ed Fitzgerald QC spoke relating to appeals against sentences.
The conference was successful and whilst the organisation is small, it is involved and influential in changing the law for victims of miscarriages of justice.
Campbell Malone, former partner and current consultant at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, was re-nominated as chairman of CALA and I was appointed secretary of CALA.
In response to the name of the conference “Miscarriages of justice, who cares?” I can positively confirm that we do and we are committed to helping victims of miscarriage of justice.
By criminal appeals solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Correna Platt