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Monday Message 02.03.20

Chair’s Update:
Caroline Goodwin QC





No doubt you will be absorbing the content of the proposals re the accelerated asks. Please click here for Friday 28th February round up as to what the main detail is.

We now have a designated period of consultation period.


As you know, MOJ is proposing to hold its own meetings with practitioners. The proposed dates for those meetings are set out below as a reminder. Specific locations have yet to be confirmed by MOJ, but we understand that the meetings in London will be held at 23 Essex Street. These are yet to be confirmed but set out below are the meetings as we presently understand them to be.   As soon as we know any more detail we will circulate.

Location  Date Venue
Cardiff Thursday 5th March Cardiff CC at 17.15
Bristol Monday 9th March Guildhall Chambers at 17.00
London Thursday 12th March 23 Essex St at 17.00
Birmingham Monday 16th March TBC
Newcastle Wednesday 18th March TBC
Manchester Monday 23rd March TBC
London 25th or 26th March 23 Essex St

These meetings will discuss the accelerated asks. Please attend where possible, engage and provide your feedback. The solutions are merely first steps and are simply not adequate, but for that message to resonate we need you to attend and give feedback. This is an opportunity for effective and constructive dialogue.

For those of you concerned about submitting claims to LAA we are working on a suitable proforma.

Further, whilst the proposals are being discussed, we do need to recognise the work that the team on the ground at the MOJ have done. Rosie and John in particular have sought to engage and are working hard to make the above meetings happen. So, thank you to them and all of their respective teams and personnel.


In addition, we will hold our own practitioner forums. We will hold these meetings on different days and at different locations, so to enable people to provide feedback generally.

In addition to the accelerated asks consultation, we continue to work on the upcoming CPS review and the wider CLAR.  Both will need to address brief fees, refreshers, other complexity markers, standard fees, categorisation and the decision tree (instruction of silk, junior, leading and led junior) among other issues.

As ever, we welcome all views.  It may be that you want to ask or nominate a person or people within Chambers to coordinate to ensure your Chambers’ views are taken on board.

All of this data will inform our ultimate policy proposals. To initiate change we need you to engage with us at this crucial stage.

We are firming up the dates and locations and will send out a message later this week when we have identified chambers where these will be held.


THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE in his annual press conference said the following:

“For the last financial year, for the first time, the analysts’ predictions were not accurate and so the number of cases that came into the Crown Court and continue to come into the Crown Court since last April, has not diminished as was expected. The result is that large numbers of cases involving defendants who are not in custody are being listed further into the future than hitherto has been the case. I should recognise that this position became apparent in the summer and the Lord Chancellor reacted after discussions between him and me and our respective officials by providing some additional sitting days, 850 extra sitting days, to use this financial year. I am expecting any minute an offer from the Lord Chancellor in respect of Crown Court sitting days for next year. He has already publicly indicated that the figure will not be less than 87,000, which is an increase of 4,700 on the original allocation for this financial year. I am confident that the offer will be higher”

We know the Lord Chancellor will respond to what has to have been the most measured of hints that the system is failing the general public. Don’t let us down. Find those days please.

For those of you at the coal face please keep sending in your examples.

Please find link here to the full press exchange.


I spoke at length with Susan Acland Hood on Friday 28th February, the location was somewhat unorthodox but I was grateful for the time and went through the many, many problems that exist due to the lack of sitting days and the way in which listing is switching trials to mere mentions. This is decimating the junior bar and is a trend that needs reversing.

The net result is that we are due now to meet her and her team with a team from CBA to set out what we see are real problems. This will be a healthy debate. If you would like to be part of that meeting please email in here and we will see if we can accommodate. We need as broad a spectrum of practitioners from across the circuits as possible.


On Friday I was invited to the FLBA dinner. What a fantastic evening. Many thanks to Cyrus Larizadeh QC, for a splendid evening. I was sat adjacent to two fantastic senior women, Baroness Butler-Sloss who is a Crossbench Life peer and Eleanor Platt QC. Ladies, it was a pleasure. I conducted my very first appeal in front of the Baroness. My fellow appellant Miss Annie Richardson and I set off on the train from Newcastle to London on the red eye special. We both felt sick, spent much time using the facilities and then …..well only Annie and I know what happened and that bit is best left unpublished. Needless to say, we could not run out of that building on the Strand fast enough!

However, the real reason for writing about this was the unreserved support that was expressed by the senior judiciary on Friday evening for a change to the relentless working life of the bar. There was a clear acknowledgement that there had to be a sea change in attitude as regards sitting hours and the scourge of the bar that has become “email” If the Family Bar can do it so can we. We need our judiciary to become leaders in this area and not leave us falling behind. Saying “NO, that timetable is not possible” is not a sin, it is not a failing, it is actually a strength.

We are not chained to desks, laptops or court 24/7, 7 days a week. It is all too easy to simply keep going, sacrificing health and family life for yet another evening working on the laptop oblivious to the continuous erosion of work into our daily lives.

If we have, as I have already pointed out, large significant firms with private client base saying that they will not respond to emails during certain hours then surely we can set our own standards?

As regards email and skeletons during a trial, we need an email protocol in force that we can should we need to, step away from by mutual consent. This is not shirking work, this is trying to balance an invasive creature, namely “email” into our lives.

There have been many attempts over the last few years to address these issues by the CBA Bar Council and Circuits, which for various reasons have been unsuccessful. Valerie Charbit has collated all of the recent material on the attempts to create a protocol and this is now a must do for all of us.

Please email in examples of emailing and court sitting hours.

With that in mind, I draw your attention to the event at Lincolns Inn, 10th March, Wellbeing: An Evenings Reception for The Bar and Bench: ‘An Introduction to Mindfulness for the Legal Profession with Mrs. Justice McGowan as the keynote speaker.

MEANWHILE, on the same evening also in Lincolns Inn at the MCR Bar, is an event involving Nemone Lethbridge, Narita Bahra QC, Katie Gollop QC and the 2020 female silks. Nemone Lethbridge, now in her 80’s was a trailblazing female member of the Bar who in her time represented the Krays in their early days before being forced to leave. She has a fascinating story to tell and 2019 saw the start of a new tradition, where a pair of white silk gloves are passed to a new female silk to keep the story alive.

Two great events.


The meeting was addressed by our new Attorney General. We have said good bye and thank you to Geoffrey Cox QC, who is to be commended on his work with us on prosecution fees.

We have now welcomed Suella Braverman. She set out her vision for the Bar and the Criminal Bar. We will continue to work together and take the profession forwards.

There was a welcome address by Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, including the innovative idea that there will be the opportunity on circuit to watch and be involved in meetings by the advent of technology used in certain hubs so that people can attend. I have to say I wholly welcomed that idea after it took me over 6 hours to return home on Saturday due to track upgrades. I say no more on that subject.


The CBA is not a one trick pony and next week I will update you as to the consultations and work we are involved in.


The Irishman

“You might be demonstrating a failure to show appreciation”!!

Onwards and upwards

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