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Monday Message – 05.06.23

Today is World Environment Day. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme, it has been held annually on 5th June since 1973. This year, it is hosted by Côte D’Ivoire. Currently, the UN claims the Resolution to end Plastic Pollution to be the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris peace accord.

It always is instructive to look in our own backyard.

As well as our households, you might wish to consider whether your chambers could do more to combat plastic pollution and whether it has a target to reduce carbon emissions by the end of 2024.

LED light upgrades also will assist tackle a chambers’ carbon footprint as well as the health and morale of those working in the building. Research has shown that lighting: in “…addition to providing sufficient light to conduct work-related visual tasks, affect employees’ alertness, mood, cognition, sleep-wake pattern, and health” (report: CHJ Smolders and Domien GM Beersma from the Department of Chronobiology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands).


Thanks to Resident Judge HHJ Rhys Rowlands, Mold Crown Court, who generously gave his time to engage with me in a conversation ranging over court listing, facilities, and general criminal justice issues.

Concerns raised here by the members’ included the moving of cases without consideration of counsel’s availability (to fill a gap in court). The judicial perspective, in outline, is that an alternative system of a “backer” case might lead to more complaints if they led to a higher rate of ineffectiveness.

The lack of a place to get a cuppa – with the nearest place being round trip walk of 20 minutes away – was raised. I can confirm that it was slower walk back up the hill to the court. Interesting is the design of the courtrooms at the Court – with apparent input from those who actually use the courts; that is, us. There were desks for laptops and files and space to stand before the lectern. There wasn’t a torn gown in sight in this court. The importance of including barristers in design as well as technology is reflected in those courtrooms which work after consultation with those who know how the space is used.

Common Platform

Technology that has flashed in costly distress is the Common Platform.

Paul Keleher KC has battled, on behalf of the CBA, for the last 18 months, in alerting the HMCTS to the flaws, including that only solicitors can gain access to a case and then give access to counsel; a huge magic roundabout for clerks, counsel and solicitors every time there is a return.

He raised this again as a result of the Chief Executive of HMCTS giving wrong information to the Public Accounts Committee. She said that barristers could grant access to their cases. To reiterate, this was/is incorrect, wrong and somewhat surprising.

It has escalated to Sir Bob Neil, Chair of the Justice Committee, tabling questions to Ministers.

We also have taken all your feedback from our survey earlier in the year and fed it back into the process. Undoubtedly, it’s heard. Whether it is listened to is another question.

The latest from HMCTS is that the digital Preparation for Effective Trial (PET) and Better Case Management (BCM) forms will go live on Common Platform in the week beginning 12th June 2023. The revised forms will be in use from 13th June 2023. Here is the guidance:

Read our guidance and watch a video which shows how to use the digitised forms.

Common Platform training sessions are on Tuesdays at 4.30pm and Thursdays at 9am. The telephone number helpline is 02039896060 and the helpdesk is emailing the helpdesk team 

Book your place at a support session 

National Zoom 6th June 2023

The national zoom will be on 6th June at 6pm.

Please send questions in advance and by replying to this email.

Please do try and join. It is a good opportunity to gain information and exchange ideas across the country.

I also will answer as many questions as I can during the session.

The discussion will include the following areas:

  1. The deal and progress since October 2023 (defence and prosecution)
  2. Working Conditions/well-being
  3. Junior Bar/retention
  4. Listing
  5. PECS
  6. Further CBA updates on the sub-committee work
  7. Your CBA – what else would you like the CBA to do.

North-West England

Spring Conference, Manchester 

Saturday 10th June 2023 at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.

Tickets are available although we now have few places left.

Our keynote speech is by Dame Amanda Yip.

The Common Sergeant, HHJ Richard Marks KC, will provide the sentencing update.

And there are many more excellent speakers.

You can book your ticket via the CBA website or by emailing Aaron.

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

It’s your CBA and your conference. Come and support it and us.

London Legal Walk 13th June 2023

The CBA is putting together a team of walkers.

Contact Aaron to book and come and join us.

I look forward to walking and chatting, having a drink with you all afterwards, and fundraising.

We even will have a limited number of CBA T-shirts for the first half a dozen or so to sign up!

We likely will meet at Doughty Street but Contact Aaron to sign up and for finalised details.


With huge thanks to Aaron Dolan who smoothly went into organising this latest Legal Walk request on top of his excellent organisation of the Manchester Conference.

And there will be other announcements on other CBA opportunities soon. These could not be done without Aaron.

Isleworth Summer Garden Party

29th June 2023 4.45 pm – 8pm 

By kind invitation of the Judges of the Crown Court at Isleworth and the members of the Surrey and South London Bar Mess 

It is in the Judges’ Garden at the Crown Court at Isleworth, 36, Ridgeway Road, Isleworth, TW7 5LP (or in a suitable place indoors if it rains!)

On the invite:

“We welcome advocates who appear at Isleworth, those that instruct them, our staff and other professionals who make our court run, and other invited guests. “

International Sub-Committee Event

With huge thanks to our speakers last week, Paul Garlick KC, Misa Zgonec-Rozej and Nina Tavakoli and to our Chair Peter Carter KC. I also was delighted to say a few words about my practice in international law, alongside a criminal law practice.

Thank you to those who attended. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm.

I reiterate Paul Garlick KC’s message of never saying “no” to an opportunity and to follow your passion.

The recording will be made available in due course.


Please have a listen to our podcasts and let us know what you think/any other ideas for future episodes.

Final Words

I have written this under natural light and am about to dash to another CBA work zoom meeting and so move my eyes to faces on a screen.

The impact of remote working is not fully understood. The positive effect of the environment is well researched.

So – see you in person on the legal walk!

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