Skip to main content

CBA Monday Message – 25.09.17

Chair’s Update: 
Angela Rafferty QC

There is nothing of substance to report, yet. All decisions about fees are likely to have to wait until after the Party conference season and parliamentary recess.  At the meeting with MOJ officials on 20th September the concerns we articulated in our consultation response were discussed, again. We await further news. We say again, with restraint and significant frustration, that the system is grotesquely underfunded and cannot be sustained.
You will all have read that the pilots are postponed to February and HMCTS have decided to ‘listen’ to us.  This issue is not over yet. The pilots are still planned. We will continue our opposition to this scheme. In a recent blog the CEO of HMCTS said that the ‘debate’ around FOH has shown her that the organisation must do better at inviting views and listening to them.  This is obviously a positive step. She remarks in relation to FOH that people should ‘not mistake level of controversy for level of importance’. The importance of this issue to us should not be underestimated. We oppose it because it will harm our profession and the working lives of all in the courts. So hopefully HMCTs will listen to that.
BACH Report
The Fabian society has published the final report by Lord Bach on “The Right to Justice”. It remains to be seen whether the present government will listen to this voice and all the others raised in protest at the crisis in our system. It deals in detail with the injustices wrought to civil legal aid by LASPO. Its central recommendation is for a new “Right to Justice Act”. A more generous and less complex legal aid system is proposed. The report states that; “The law is not something that lawyers and judges impose on criminals but a common inheritance to which everybody in society has an equal right”. Chapter 6 sets out a powerful case for introducing legal education in schools as part of the curriculum. I urge you to read this report.
Balancing the Scales – a Study into Under Application by Women for Appointment as Queens’ Counsel
The Work Foundation has published research commissioned by the QC Appointments Agency into the gender balance of Silk. Its findings and recommendations are here.
It offers some practical steps to take to encourage more women to apply for Silk. These include reducing the 12 case requirement and number of references, shortening the process, reducing the financial burden of applications and increasing transparency. A representative selection panel is recommended and emphasis should be placed on the fact that there is no restriction on places if the grade is met. It is made clear that the QCA must work alongside Chambers as well as other agencies to reduce the level of attrition of women before they even get to the application stage. Flexibility of Chambers and clerks is critical when administering and planning the careers of women (and men, my addition) who have caring responsibilities.
The CBA Executive Committee will meet this week and will discuss this research and how we can assist all affected members. It is often suggested that a ‘nudge’ is required to help excellent but reluctant candidates to apply. However no amount of nudging is going to help those with the potential for excellence who have left the profession early because of economic and social factors. This is a very important topic for me, and all the officers of the CBA. Anyone who wants to email us in complete confidence about any issue surrounding it can do so at the usual addresses.
The Bar council has introduced a certificate of recognition for all individuals and organisations which meet the set of requirements in the application form.  This is an important and innovative initiative and we encourage all to take the steps necessary to secure a certificate. The process is set out here.
LAMMY Review – A Conversation
This is to be held in Middle Temple Hall on 2nd October at 6pm. David Lammy M.P will introduce the panel which will be chaired by Greg Foxsmith. Those who will take part include Sir Anthony Hooper, Judy Khan Q.C. Courtenay Griffiths Q.C, and Sandra Paul from Kingsley Napley.  Further details of the event can be found here

Pupillage Fairs are to be held on Saturday 21st October at the University of Law, Moorgate.The link to the signup page is here. If we are to attract and retain those of talent from all backgrounds we have to put some effort in to these events.
Important information about Old Bailey Security
There are new security arrangements in place for all pupils and mini pupils who attend the Old Bailey – these are in place from 2nd October 2017. It is a 4 step process and if not complied with then pupils and mini pupils will not be admitted to the Central Criminal Court.  Everyone should read the letter from Head of Security here

View more news