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CBA Monday Message 23.07.18

Chair’s Update:
Angela Rafferty QC

Next week will be my last message to you. The CBA will then take a Summer break but a team of volunteers will be on standby to deal with any urgent issues. You will hear from your new Chair on Monday 3rd of September.

A big thank you is due to Daniel Bonich of the CLSA for last week’s message. It is of critical importance that the work and campaigning to restore our broken system carries on. Daniel is right in what he said last week – we have so much in common with each other. Working together with all those affected by the crisis in the system can only be an advantage in the future.

Chris Henley QC and the CBA officers are all determined to carry on the campaign to restore the system and to improve things for all.

The Justice Select Committee has published its report into the disclosure process. Our evidence has been extensively quoted. The Select report is thorough and searching. We hope it will contribute to the restoration of proper functioning of the disclosure process and the broken Criminal Justice System. This parliamentary committee is playing a vital role in highlighting the problems we all face.

The Public Accounts Committee report on HMCTS Digitalisation is also essential reading. It concludes with this “We have little confidence that HMCTS can successfully deliver this hugely ambitious programme to bring the court system into the modern age”

It also concluded that “HMCTS has not adequately considered how the reforms will impact access to, and the fairness of, the justice system for the people using it, many of whom are vulnerable.”

It is noted that legal practioners consider that ‘lip service’ is being paid to their concerns.

The Criminal Appeal Office has released guidance in relation to Offenders of Particular Concern (OPCs).

The Criminal Bar has been rolling out vulnerable witness training this year. We are undertaking this without any regulatory requirements although judges you appear before sentence may ask you if you have completed the course.
This is a profession led initiative and has demonstrated that the Bar continues to lead the way in excellence in advocacy. The course has been hugely successful. It is now seen to be contributing to an improvement in the way in which cases involving children and vulnerable witnesses are handled (the Judicial Perceptions survey).
Two-thirds of criminal barristers are now trained with courses still available until December 2018. The FLBA is delivering its own training based on the criminal course from 2019. If you have not yet undertaken your training please do sign up, this is important and will allow the profession to continue to train its own members.

Some time ago when the Lammy report was published, Tunde Okewale wrote a piece for us. You can find it here. We all need to wake up to the issues around race and class in the Criminal Justice system. It can be uncomfortable to face these issues but they are endemic. It is also important that as well as developing insight we actually do something about it. The CBA will campaign on this issue in the coming year and a group has been set up chaired by Michelle Nelson whom we thank.  This campaign could not come at a more important time.  The work of Tunde Okewale and his charity Urban Lawyers has been an inspiration and the CBA is delighted to support the Urban Lawyers conference in November.

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