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Monday Message 08.06.15

CBA Chairman’s Message: 
Tony Cross QC 

E: [email protected]
T: 07860 692693 

Dame Elish Angiolini
Today, Barristers in independent practice, the length and breadth of the land, will prosecute and defend in the overwhelming majority of cases involving serious sexual allegations.  
We, at the Independent Bar, train and provide the advocates who are able to conduct these cases. No one should be in any doubt that the open market is the best test for one’s ability – of course it is not perfect but it is the best by far. 
This is work that frequently attracts public attention. Each day brings a report of such cases in the media. I wonder if the public really understand that the Barristers who do these cases have had their fees slashed over many years-and do countless hours of prep in the early morning and the late evening and for free – and whose very existence is now imperilled by the untested and unnecessary “Dual Provider” scheme.  These well trained Barristers, now face the real threat of being driven out of business and being replaced by a new brand of advocates caused by this unnecessary change.
I wonder which body will represent this new breed? Will that body produce material of the quality of ‘A Question of Practice’?  Who else will provide training of the quality that is to take place in London this weekend training given by senior practitioners for no cost?  Will it support the Advocate’ s gateway?  Will it provide the trainers that seek to establish [for free] the governments promise to provide training for every advocate doing such cases?
Last week Dame Elish Angiolini released her report on the investigation and prosecution of rape in London HERE.  It made for interesting reading and attracted a good deal of media interest. Although it was essentially concerned with London, much of its content was relevant to the rest of England and Wales.
Dame Elish made it plain that:
 “Rape cases present some of the most difficult and complex challenges for the police and prosecution [in London]. Overcoming those challenges requires a sound legal framework, appropriate policies, the highest levels of investigative and communication skills and appropriate resources. Addressing the robust evidential requirements and any ingrained prejudice or stereotypical beliefs about those who deserve the protection of the law also demands exceptional and creative preparation and advocacy.”
She goes on to say, unsurprisingly, “The effectiveness of each of the police and the prosecution in this respect is very much dependent on the effectiveness of the other. Likewise, both the Police and Prosecution in London rely heavily on the cooperation, support and effectiveness of a number of other critical agencies and professionals, including staff of the NHS, Sexual Assault Referral Centres, Local Authorities, members of the Bar, the Courts and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors.”
Dame Elish was right on point.  Without us the whole house of cards would come tumbling down – and fast.
Now there is a feeling at the Criminal bar that no one is listening to us.  They should. Last month our survey received a response that few would have thought imaginable. We hope that common sense will prevail. 

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