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CBA Monday Message 12.11.18

Chair’s Update:
Chris Henley QC




Our meeting with Lucy Frazer QC MP, the Legal Aid Minister, about AGFS on Wednesday was frank and constructive. I am increasingly optimistic of a positive outcome. We should not underestimate the work and effort involved on both sides to achieve this.


In a week in which I received depressing reports of another ‘diversity’ Judge sending e-mails at midday on a Sunday, with replies to be received by 6.00pm the same day, the Wellbeing event on Thursday15th November in the Bingham Room at Grays Inn could not be more timely.

Weekend and late night e-mail intrusions are happening too often. E-mails can of course be sent whenever is convenient for the sender but they should be treated as having been received first thing the following weekday morning.

I have been discussing with Valerie Charbit, the new CBA Wellbeing officer, and Kerim Fuad QC, how we might identify a few wellbeing ground rules we can all sign up to, to take to the senior judiciary. For example, we should not be required, or feel pressured, to deal with e-mails from Judges or indeed professional colleagues after 6.00pm on a Friday until 9.00am on a Monday.

We all need to show solidarity on this to avoid unconsciously embedding the discriminatory impact this thoughtless behaviour has. Many of us who are working parents pause at 5.00pm or 6.00pm on weekdays to rush home to deal with children, then start again at 9.00pm or later and work through until the early hours to be ready again when the curtain goes up the following day. We accept this will never be a 9 to 5 job. Its hard enough already to balance work and life, as the attrition rates for young mothers indicate, but ‘diversity’ Judges (there is at least one in each court centre) should be issuing supportive protocols (not Sunday e-mails) on this. Otherwise what is the point of them? Perhaps a question for Thursday’s panel; please attend in numbers.


On Friday Jo Cecil and I met with the Co-Chairs of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee, and Richard Millar, Head of Legal Aid at the Law Society. We had a wide-ranging discussion on topics ranging from fees, training, recruitment and retention, ‘heat maps’ and campaigning. There are some differences of view, of course, but much more that unites us. We will work closely together whenever we can. I am speaking at the annual conference of the CLSA on Saturday, and several of us are attending the LCCSA’s 70th Anniversary Dinner on Friday.


In October 2017 the CBA commissioned Professor Laura Hoyano to conduct comprehensive empirical research into the operation of section 41 in the courts of England and Wales. We will publish it very shortly. It is unprecedented in scope and detail. Professor Hoyano has undertaken the largest empirical study of the use of previous sexual behaviour evidence in criminal trials. The data examined in depth comes from 377 cases involving 565 complainants, which proceeded to trial in 105 Crown Court centres in the 24 months immediately prior to November 2017. The CBA would like to place on record our thanks to Laura for this uniquely authoritative study. I would also like to the many barristers who gave their time and shared their experience for this project. In particular I would like to thank Mary Aspinall-Miles, Sarah Vine and Alisdair Williamson QC, who formed the s41 CBA Working Party. This report should be read by all of us, but also in particular by politicians, media commentators, members of the judiciary, and all who care about fair trials for defendants and respectful treatment of complainants.


A final reminder that Max Hill QC, the new Director of Public Prosecutions will be giving his first public address at Inner Temple Hall tomorrow at 5.30pm. Max, a previous Chair of the CBA, will set out his thoughts and priorities for the CPS. There is substantial press interest in this event. Tickets can be reserved be emailing the CBA administrator.

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