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CBA Monday Message 11.12.17

Chair’s Update:
Angela Rafferty QC

If it is snowing where you are we hope you have made it to court. If you are lucky you will not be listed at a court where the queues for security ensure everyone is frozen solid before getting inside. This week the resident Judge at Maidstone made public his concerns about the ‘lamentable’ state of ‘the queue’ outside his court. It is clear the presiding judges are attempting to sort things out but the problems are so embedded they are hard to tackle without the immediate injection of both cash and contractors.

Security is essential at court but it has to be quick and efficient and this should not be difficult to manage. After all efficiency is one of the core aims of the courts reform programme. HMCTS are considering issuing legal professionals with passes. Susan Acland – Hood this week said that HMCTS had started discussions with the Law Society and the Bar Council on ID cards and that she was keen to make that work. We will be meeting with HMCTS in the near future.

Another, related issue, is the state of court buildings and the actual conditions in which we are expected to work. We are trying to get a picture from across the country. We hear of leaking roofs, defective heating, locked consultation rooms, lavatories with no seats, complete lack of catering, ripped flooring, tannoy systems breaking regularly and general decrepitude. The very same HHJ Carey was reported in 2014 informing a jury of his concerns about the maintenance of court buildings. This was after a roof had leaked on a jurors head during a rape trial.

Lives are decided in Crown courts every day. Those in distress and extremis include witnesses and defendants.  It seems to be increasingly difficult for us to get on with our job because of the crumbling fabric of the court estate. It is a physical manifestation of the degradation and crisis generally in the Criminal Justice system. The professionals and the staff who make the system work should expect at the very least to be able to do so without the added burdens of woeful conditions and lack of facilities.

Please email your views of this issue to [email protected]

As Christmas approaches those who are suffering from mental, financial or other worries can feel even worse. It can be a bad time of year for those alone, or grieving or who are ill. Seasonal pressures can be overwhelming, even for the ordinarily robust.

The CBA has invested in an Employee Assistance Programme, which can be accessed by members, their partners and any dependents between the ages of 16-24 and in full-time education. Members can call the confidential telephone service at any time, as many times as you want and for as long as you need; counselling is available for both emotional and practical issues. You will also have access to the online services, providing information and assistance with common health concerns.

More information is available here.

The service is already available.

How to access your EAP
Telephone: 0800 169 2040

This is a number designated to CBA members exclusively. You will not have to provide any additional form of verification, and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence. Put the number in your phone now. Nobody hopes that you will need it, but we want you to have it if you do.

Online Portal:
Username: CBA
Password: Wellbeing

Young Bar conference
It was heartening to see members of the young bar brave the freezing weather to come to a conference about getting ahead at the Criminal Bar on Saturday.  We told them not to fear approaching senior members for advice. Can we ask that those of you in Silk or who are very senior spare time to talk to junior barristers. You might learn something from them as well.

We are planning more events, social and educational, for those under 7 years call.  The future of the profession depends on the recruitment and retention of talented barristers. In the New Year we are planning to publish the response rate we have had to our letter to Heads of Chambers about magistrates court fees. We will then consider with the Bar Council and the regulator what can be officially done about this issue. It will not go away. All bad practices which blight the professional lives of the Junior bar must be wiped out, they already have enough to contend with.

CBA Elections
Following the election, please join me to congratulate, Mary Aspinall-Miles, Rebecca Herbert, Stephen Knight and David Wood in their successful candidacy, commencing 1st January 2018.

Next weeks message will be the last before Christmas. Should there be any announcement about the AGFS reform scheme we will issue a press release and a general message to the membership.

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