CBA Monday Message – 08.05.17
Francis FitzGibbon QC
The Bar Standards Board has issued a consultation paper on whether to change the standard of proof in barristers’ disciplinary proceedings from the present criminal standard, to the civil.
In the wake of Dr Shipman’s crimes the General Medical Council in 2007 adopted the civil standard for its jurisdiction. Other medical and related professional bodies followed suit (but not veterinarians).
The Solicitors Regulation Authority uses the civil standard, but the different jurisdiction of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has retained the criminal.
The issue is not an academic one. Anyone who has been involved with Bar disciplinary proceedings knows that the process is agonising and the stakes are high.
We risk our professional integrity at our peril, and we should not expect the public to respect us if we appear soft on serious misconduct. In one sense, the criminal standard puts such misconduct on a par with actual crime, and may appear to mark just how seriously we take it. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to ask why so high a standard is needed and why the balance of probabilities does not suffice.
The consultation closes on 21st July. The CBA will be responding. We would like your views.
Another valuable resource is Lawcare, a service for lawyers in all kinds of crisis – it provides for help mental health problems, drink and drugs, bullying, anxiety, stress, and concerns about others. Its advisers are volunteers from the legal profession. They know the score. Lawcare has rescued barristers from deep trouble. It sits well with the Bar/CBA’s own well-being network.
A stressor that is receiving serious attention in our world is vicarious trauma – the psychological impact of witnessing the traumas of other people, for example by trying child sex abuse cases or acting as an advocate in them. Please see this latest piece of writing on the subject by the redoubtable Sir Henry Brooke (formerly Brooke LJ) in his always fascinating blog.
Southwark Crown Court
Her Honour Judge Taylor, the Resident Judge, has announced a reconfiguration of the robing rooms:
- The current large Male Robing room will become a communal robing room.
- The small Female Robing room with lavatory will remain a Female Robing room.
- The other Female Robing room will become a Male robing room.
Advocates should remove their property, of any description, by 25th May. Unclaimed items will be kept till 1st June, and then thrown away.
Bar Council Manifesto:
The Bar Council has published its ‘Manifesto for Justice 2017‘.