The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Noble Solicitors is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
1NOBLE SOLICITORS |
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2021
Founding Partner Paul Millan
Partners of Noble Solicitors
Established 25 years ago, Noble Solicitors is a criminal, civil
and family law practice. It is also a specialist practice for
legal issues concerning mental health. Ranked as one of
the top ten publicly funded criminal defence firms thanks to the
high volume of criminal defence work carried out locally and
nationally, the firm also has experience of international work.
Founding partner Paul Millan explains more.
I strongly believe that the best way a client can gain access to justice is through the
availability of professional legal representation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This commitment to our clients has been a key feature of our success as a practice,
which we started in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire but have since extended to
offices opposite the Old Bailey, Wembley and Northamptonshire.
We are proud that our hard work and commitment to a range of clients, including
those on legal aid, has enabled us to grow. As we enter our 25th year, Noble Solicitors
provides expertise in many disciplines including commercial, civil, family, public, mental
health, employment, education and extradition laws.
Our core service
Noble is renowned for having one of the best criminal defence teams serving the M1
corridor from the Midlands into Central London. We defend the cases of a wide range
of clients charged with minor motoring offences through to high-profile and complex
cases, offering expert advice to all our clients. However, I would like to highlight that the
long-term inadequacies of the legal aid system have been compounded by the sudden
Covid-19 crisis, which combined, threaten access to justice for many of our clients.
»Founding Partner: Paul Millan
»Established in 1996
»Offices in London,
criminal, commercial, civil and
»No. of employees: 80
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| NOBLE SOLICITORS
Whatever the reasons clients come to
us, we ensure that they benefit from
our dedication and they see us as
“their” solicitors in the future if they ever
have cause for further representation.
Asevidence of the hard work of the
whole team and our focus on our clients,
we introduced a 24-hour phone number,
guaranteeing that clients can always
speak to a trained member of staff.
Our high level of service and quality has
been widely recognised, for instance
annually in The Legal 500, and I personally
have been mentioned in The Legal
500 on a number of occasions. Noble
Solicitors has a nationally recognised
Complex Crime Team specialising in
white-collar crime and extradition. We are
also proud to have consistently achieved
the annual Lexcel practice management
standard. This determination to deliver
exceptional performance to our clients
is why we adopted the slogan “fighting
for you, always protecting your rights”,
which has helped our practice grow
through earning our clients’ appreciation
Although our success has allowed us
to expand, we still focus on our local
communities. Throughout our existence
as a practice, we have sponsored
a variety of community events and
worked with a number of charitable
organisations including pro bono legal
work. I believe that businesses and their
employees should contribute to our
society both in our day-to-day work,
and outside of it. Most recently, several
members of staff took part in a sleepout
for the homeless charity, NOAH. We
run regular legal clinics there, and I
continue to deliver supplies on a regular
basis. We also run pro bono advice
clinics to local drug and rehabcentres.
Legal aid and Covid-19:
Drought followed by pandemic
Although as individuals and as a
practice, we all do what we can to
volunteer in society, there are wider
issues of social concern that only
the government can address. Noble
Solicitors is proud that we have
consistently been an integral part of
the legal aid system, which is essential
to a fair criminal justice system.
However, over the last year the
sustainability of the legal aid model
which has for years been under pressure,
came under even greater threat due
to the reduced number of court hours
caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The
demise in some categories, such as
reduced Crown Court sittings and
decimation of legal aid fee structures
at the police stations and magistrates’
courts, has brought the provision of
equal justice to the brink of collapse. I
urge the current independent review
of the criminal legal aid fee scheme
announced by the MOJ to address the
many inequalities faced by suppliers and
legal aid barristers nationally. Without
this, we cannot have a sustainable,
diverse and flexible market-place – and
a fair criminal justice system. In order
for the legal aid system to be viable,
it will need to be properly funded and
resourced including dealing with the
looming recruitment crisis, as many
continue to retire from this area ofwork.
It is of course understandable that
Covid-19 has caused necessary delays
and restrictions on criminal hearings.
We have had to quickly grasp new
legislation relating to individual
freedoms and the dangers of potential
miscarriages of justice caused by
emergency legislation. At the same
time, we have been determined to
continue to provide a high level of
service to our clients and organisations
who had been charged under this
legislation or during this period. This
has involved adapting to the interim
CPS charging protocol and virtual
courts. We have done everything that
we can to ensure that justice delayed
does not become justice denied. In
these challenging times, it is crucial that
our clients are still able to access us
despite the need for socialdistancing.
as a practice,
worked with a
3NOBLE SOLICITORS |
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2021
Fortunately, prior to the Covid-19
pandemic, we had already moved
towards a full digital environment.
All staff were issued with laptops,
digital security and the ability to work
remotely when required, through
video conferencing and other
electronic media. Such platforms
have been beneficial for our clients
in this testing time to keep in contact
with their legal team as they work
remotely, and a number of police
station custody suites are now using
this same platform too.
We have been able to keep our staff
and clients safe during the pandemic
by conducting virtual interviews.
We believe that we are a leader in
this field, being one of the earliest
firms to conduct remote hearings.
However, while it is necessary in
the short term to have emergency
measures, once it is safe to do so,
we believe that full consideration
be given to reviewing the efficacy
of the whole range of technologies
employed in the legal system during
the pandemic in order to ascertain
what lessons can be learnt for future
proceedings. This would include
reviewing operating hours, the
disconnect with remote police station
interviews, impact on wellbeing,
sustainability of supplier base, use of
the common video platform system
and a full impact assessment on
diversity and equality.
Brexit: extradition preserved,
but cooperation slowed down?
The ink is still wet on the Brexit deal at
the time of writing, and amendments
and additions to the deal are presumably
possible over time. The current agreement
provides for a fast-track system of
extradition, known as ‘surrender’, which
replaces the European Arrest Warrant
(EAW) and mirrors the arrangement
between the EU and Iceland or Norway, as
requested by the UK. The agreement also
provides for ‘cooperation on operational
information’, which facilitates the exchange
of existing information and intelligence.
However, this not a replacement for the
sharing of real-time data through the
EU’s Schengen Information System II (SIS
II) database of security and border alerts
about people and items such as stolen
firearms and vehicles. So, although there
is cooperation on security and policing,
and despite the acknowledgment that
fast and effective means of sharing
information and intelligence enhance
public safety and save lives, the UK will
not participate in management of the
agencies nor have direct access to the
Europol databases such as SIENA. As it
stands presently, what is certain is that
the process of exchanging information
will be slowed down, which may lead
to issues of detection. This could hinder
investigations into terrorism, money
laundering and other crimes.
proud that we
of the legal aid
is essential to
a fair criminal
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.