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Chair’s End of Year Message 23.12.22

A Final Message for 2022

As we walk towards the doorway of 2023, there is more than a glance backwards at the CBA of 2022. It was the year that our robed and wigged-selves took our case directly to the public. It was a year where our voices fell silent inside the court buildings but rang with anger and despair outside as we delivered our advocacy on the court steps.

This time our client was the criminal justice system. It was a time when we unified in our fight for our one client.

As I stand alongside you and look back, I remember the arms that we put around each other, and the calls we placed and took to examine our Code of Conduct, as we went against our every barrister-instinct and refused to act for our individual clients and took decisions that we had to continue to act in those cases with specific vulnerabilities and so go against the action.  And instead, we were forced to act and focus on  the greater criminal justice system.

We then united and respected each other in our democratic process as we went to ballot and voted for the offer, snatched from the small economic window opened by former Lord Chancellor Brandon Lewis CBE. We smashed that window fully open and grabbed the deal, as we ran past the returning Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab.

And then we set to work again, speaking to the returned Deputy Prime Minister, the new Attorney General and Solicitor General, pushing them and the CPS and the DPP to get on with increasing prosecution fees and making good their assurances to match the increase to defence fees.

And then the CBA upped its engagement with the judiciary – Lord Chief Justice, the SPJ, the Chief Magistrate, Resident Judges -and HMCTS on your concerns over burn-out and stress and listing as the backlog of 63,000 cases spewed across the Crown Courts. And our Silks’ panel remained and remains in place for juniors to call as we push our well-being protocol back onto the SPJ agenda.

And then the snow came and settled its beautiful powder upon even the ugliest faces of our court buildings. We gave a magical sigh and skipped up those same court steps to our trials; deadening to a halt as the heating broke and barristers watched their breath as they spoke, and jurors sat in gloves and scarves staring grimly at the stained walls and floors. Who would blink first about working conditions? And so we pointed again to our [email protected] for members to communicate.

And we reported on trials freezing in time within  adjournments for years as no barrister can be found to prosecute or defend. Our numbers have been so depleted. And more investment is needed as section 28 cases continue to falter.

And so up to the end of 2022, we continue to fight for our criminal justice system -for our most junior barristers, for working conditions, for witnesses, for victims, complainants and defendants, but this time working alongside the MoJ on long-term reform with all eyes on the effectiveness of CLAAB as it delivers on its first work. And we have picked up our fresh, positive engagement with the Deputy Prime Minister to look into reallocating POCA money back to the Criminal Bar. No promises, of course. But it is the season of goodwill.

And as we look back at when we resumed our cases, we hold the people behind the backlog statistics in our hands and reflect on comforting the distraught, calming the frightened, listening to the unwell, managing the dangerous and hearing the child’s voice speaking of the knife they used just once, as we defend and prosecute cases which gut and show the worst and the best of humanity.

And then we remind ourselves that some go through life with the worst of deals.

And we examine that in three months, by the end of 2022, £12 million is projected to have been paid out to barristers and solicitors as a result of the deal, with the LAA obeying its new guidance. And we take a deep breath as we consider that we should be proud of our historic action and all we achieved.

And I ask that you are proud. Because this is our ancient and respected profession that we are rebuilding.

And so to thanks…..


We are in a time of thanksgiving. All members of the CBA are thanked.  As are all those working alongside us.

The generosity of individual barristers, Chambers, solicitors’ firms, and others in donating to the CBA hardship fund has been astonishing. The support of the Bar Council in holding the money has been superb. The time given by Heads of Chambers and the Silks Panel to help our most junior barristers continues to be inspiring. The work and dedication of the co-ordinators of the action and those barristers who stood and spoke is part of CBA history. And the actions of those who conducted themselves with utter integrity will never be forgotten.

The barristers of the Executive of the CBA scrambled to attend all meetings whenever called and at whatever time, and the various sub-committees leapt into action and continue to work all hours.

The Heads of Chambers meetings have continued until this week and our Young Bar have remained engaged and generous with their time.

Our Education Committee is planning the Spring Conference in Manchester. Save the date for a dinner on 31st March and Conference on 1st April 2023 at the Lowry Hotel. It might be a bit of a Footballers’ wives’ venue – and husbands given the success of the Lionesses – but it is a challenge that I will wholeheartedly embrace.

Our Remuneration Committee is tireless – including our most junior members -and the RASSO Group and Law Reform Committee and International Committee start on consultations and work opportunities for our most junior in the New Year. I look forward to working with our newly elected junior and senior Executive who bring new ideas and energy for the benefit of our profession.

Laurie-Anne Power KC is finishing her term as Treasurer. What an incredible woman to have had by my side. And thanks also to Vice-Chair Tana Adkin KC.

And the men are pretty good too! Secretary Mark Watson and Assistant Secretary James Oliveira- Agnew are now joined by James Gray as Treasurer as we stride forwards.

Thank you, Aaron Dolan, for continuing to work hard for the CBA and to James Rossiter for successfully facilitating communications with press.

And thank you, criminal law barristers. You gained the respect of the public this year.  You are the barristers whose eyes I meet as I quietly thank you for your selflessness, dedication, integrity, professionalism, and kindness.

The CBA is stronger than ever. Our adversary is time and numbers, but our strength is our skill, indivisibility, and singularity in our work for justice.

Together we are unbeatable.

And so, at the doorway of 2023, it is time to pivot and look forwards with arms around each other in solidarity and in pride.

And have a peaceful break.  My door might not be a gateway. But it is always open.

Thank you.


This is a time of year of joy and hope but also of sadness and mourning. We are here for those who are struggling and will help where we can. And please continue to apply to the CBA hardship fund.

It was with deep sadness that we heard the news of Mark George KC’s passing on 21st December 2022.

I worked with him in 2015/2016 on death row cases in the United States. Mark was working on behalf of Amicus. He was deeply knowledgeable and passionate on behalf of our client in Pennsylvania. I then came across him when he offered to help co-ordinate the CBA action alongside myself in the Northwest. He quickly handed to Nina Graeme KC as he became ill. I did not know how ill.

The tributes to Mark on social media show how he was loved and admired by all those he encountered. And shining through is his generosity, kindness to all and fire for justice for the most vulnerable. He will be deeply missed.

If I may, I will dedicate the rest of this space to a tribute on twitter from one of his sons, Tom George.

And as we remember Mark, let’s continue to look after ourselves and each other.


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