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CBA Monday Message 02.07.18

Vice Chair’s Update:
Chris Henley QC


This message comes from our current Vice Chair Chris Henley QC.   He sets out his plans for his year as Chair starting in September. Continuity and ongoing strategy are of the utmost importance for us now.

We have a new Vice Chair Caroline Goodwin QC. Caroline was elected unopposed on 29th June. She has been involved with the CBA for over 7 years. We are delighted she has shown the courage and commitment to stand and we intend to start to work with her immediately to continue all our campaigns.

Angela’s time is nearly done. We have worked very closely, and we believe effectively over the last year, supported by a fantastic officer team, and executive committee.  The momentum and determination to improve the lot of mainstream criminal barristers will continue. One of the benefits of this year’s adversity and campaigning has been to re-engage with members across the country. The regular reports of steadfast solidarity from places like Swansea and Cardiff, Southampton, Newcastle and Sheffield, gave us great heart that so many will stand up to be counted. So many have contributed but we would like, in particular, to single out Donal Lawler, the outgoing CBA Secretary, for his indefatigable commitment to the cause. He clocked up literally hundreds of miles chasing you all down, explaining, reassuring, cajoling, and not many fewer hours dealing with the AGFS@cba e-mail account. He has been a hero.

But this is just the start. We are well aware that too many serious cases are not remunerated adequately.  Payment for the second day and the ‘free’ hearings are welcome but no more than basic, minimum requirements, they do not and will not fix the many and profound issues. We have been working very closely with Andrew Walker QC and members of RemCom to ensure that we get the most we possibly can out of the £15m.

There will be a review of the scheme in October next year. The work for that starts now. We will maintain the AGFS e-mail to receive your thoughts on what needs to be done.  The extra money will mitigate some of the effects of this in drugs and fraud cases, but there are still iniquities.  The demands of properly preparing complex grooming and sexual abuse trials, or people trafficking, or conspiracy to cause GBH, or supplying firearms, and others must be recognised.  Cases that crack are badly hit.  There may come a point at which members will refuse to take on the more substantial cases in certain categories because the financial risks of committing the necessary time are too great.  The unintended, but unsurprising consequences may be to cause the flight of the most effective and experienced practitioners from the most demanding cases.  This is a subject we will return to, and want to hear your views and experiences on as the scheme beds in. Payment for large volumes of unused material needs to be part of the long term solution too.

Prosecution advocacy needs significant investment.  The demands of this work are substantial and increasing at every level.  Fees have not been uprated for many years.  Prosecutors are being asked to do more and more for less and less. The arguments in respect of fees for prosecution advocacy are no less compelling than for defence advocacy.  We are not interested in being diverted into debates about rearranging, or re-slicing the cake, at cost neutrality. There must be new money.

Much thought and activity over the last year has gone into how we can make the Bar an attractive, supportive and sustainable career for people of all social backgrounds. Unpredictable work patterns, long hours, and falling fees have led to a haemorrhaging of talent from the publicly funded bar.  We need to see off Flexible Operating Hours, which are anything but flexible and we need to bring an end to sitting hours creep. Events like the Imposter Syndrome symposium, networking events with inspirational members of the senior judiciary and silks, and mentoring initiatives have proved both popular and invaluable. The current Chair will continue to coordinate and promote these activities.

The links to wellbeing are clear. We all need the support of trusted colleagues. We all need regular breaks to recharge, and to have a life away from work. We all need Judges, clerks, opponents, and professional clients to respect boundaries and the reality that many of us have other responsibilities beyond our work.  We have not chosen a career, with predictable hours and a regular route to the office around which we can plan with confidence, a certain income, even if off sick, or on holiday, a pension and work related expenses.  Our vocational career gives us the very best of times, the proudest of moments, but sometimes immense challenges too.  We need to be there for each other.  Fees are part of the solution for obvious practical reasons, but so is respect.  The CBA gets this.  See this blog by our Wellbeing Director; Sarah Vine.

I intend to continue to make a difference as Chair of the CBA. The change in leadership will not bring any change in focus and we will harness all the knowledge and talent we have to continue to further the interests of the Criminal Bar of England and Wales.

Social Mobility

On Saturday, 30th June James Keeley and Joanna Hardy from the CBA Executive attended the Bar Council’s 6th Form Open Day at BPP, Law School, Waterloo. Both Joanna and James led individual group discussions on a case study demonstrating some of the practical skills that are needed in criminal trials.

A Q and A session followed in the main lecture hall. Joanna and James formed a panel of five barristers who fielded questions from the floor. Both Joanna and James spoke about the freedom, fun and the independence a life at the Criminal Bar gives you. Joanna gave practical advice derived from her experience of becoming a barrister and being responsible for pupillage applications within chambers. She also stressed how important well being is during the ups and the downs of being a trial advocate. James spoke about his journey to the Bar from being brought up on benefits through to the struggle of obtaining pupillage and tenancy.

As for the difference between being a solicitor and a barrister James said that a life at the Bar could be summed up in four words Freedom, Independence, Excellence and Family. Both James and Joanna enjoyed the afternoon and recommend other members of the CBA to get involved and help inspire the next generation of the Criminal Bar.

and Finally

A Valedictory for Judge Christopher Moss QC will be held at 10am on Thursday 12th  July , Court One, Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey); all are welcome!

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