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Monday Message 11.03.24

Dear colleagues and friends,

Backlog Barristers

It is clear that the Criminal Bar is more than pulling its weight to try to clear the backlog.  Recent statistics show that more cases are being resolved than are arriving at the Crown Court.  The fact that this is even possible with the reduced numbers of Criminal Barristers in publicly funded practice is remarkable.  We at the CBA could not be prouder of our members who have chosen criminal practice and who dedicate themselves to giving access to justice to the people of England and Wales.

More police officers results in more investigations, more prosecutions and more cases joining the queue.  The Ministry of Justice has resourced more court sitting days and deployed more judges.  However, the reduced workforce of Criminal Barristers cannot operate at full throttle for long without being exhausted and further depleted.

RASSO National Zoom

On Tuesday evening we spoke with some 200 RASSO Counsel at a National Zoom meeting.  Members confirmed the results of our survey, that significant numbers are over-burdened with an increased workload and intend to give up RASSO work.  They expressed their frustration, alongside silks at the meeting, with the instruction of silks to conduct RASSO cases.  This undermines the Juniors and is costing significant sums that would be better invested in specialist RASSO Counsel.  We will be writing to silks about this shortly.

Senior Presiding Judges initiative

We support wholeheartedly the initiative of the Senior Presiding Judge announced last week to give priority to the oldest Rape cases in the backlog.  We have argued that Rape cases should be given priority – the impact of delay on these cases is particularly damaging and impacts on the attrition rate of victims.  However RASSO Counsel must be resourced properly to be able to address these and all Rape cases.

We will be meeting with Lord Justice Edis and Circuit Leaders shortly to discuss how the Criminal Bar can work with the judiciary to achieve resolution of these cases as soon as possible.

Other news

I was delighted to be invited to the Family Law Bar Association Dinner on the 23rd February.  We have much in common and I will be meeting with Barbara Mills KC, Vice Chair of the Bar Council and other Family Law practitioners to discuss mutual interests.

CBA RASSO Conference 27th April 2024

A date for your diaries.  The programme for this important conference will be released shortly.

The Senior Presiding Judge will give the keynote speech.

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