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Monday Message 11.07.16

Chairman’s Update: 
Mark Fenhalls QC


The new Vice Chair and AGM on 20th July
Angela Rafferty QC has been elected as your new Vice Chair and will be in post from 1st September this year.  I would like to thank both Angela and Bernard Richmond QC for having put up their hands and volunteered to represent us all.

Please remember that the AGM and the final exec meeting of my term as chair will take place at the Old Bailey on 20th July.  All CBA members are invited to both meetings.  This will be an excellent opportunity to review the developments over the last year and look forward to the autumn.  Francis and I will do our best to answer all questions. 

There will be a short reception afterwards and I will be presenting the mess with a framed picture of our first chair (in 1969), Lord Hutchinson.  Old Bailey security means you will have to give Aaron your name in advance.  Please do come along. 

We continue to raise this with the Judiciary and HMCTS at every opportunity.  The question of court capacity is vexed and frustrating.  A recent horror story I heard concerned a 5-week trial that went out because the available jury panel was too small.  No doubt someone had been told to keep the number of prospective panel members down in order to save a few £s in jury expenses.  The effect on witnesses, public confidence and the cost to society (let alone the defendant or the lawyers) is of course harder to measure…

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some courts are getting better at reducing the number of unnecessary mentions.  If you have found otherwise, please keep sending in the chapter & verse details of any unnecessary “in-person” mentions that could have been done by email or phone or avoided entirely.

The CBA Bursary 2016
This scheme is now in its 4th year and I am delighted to launch this year’s bursary award.  For some years now I am not sure we have paid enough attention to the situation of those young tenants who have survived student debt, grotesque BPTC fees, the competition for pupillage and made it to tenancy.  If we are serious about sustaining the future health of our profession, then we have to pay more attention to helping people survive the early years.

The award competition is open to members of the CBA who have been in independent practice for no more than 3 years from the start of pupillage, this fund is designed to assist practising barristers from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.  Awards are merit based.

Over the past 4 years, the CBA, together with several sets from around the country and three legal publications have awarded Bursaries totalling £80,000.00.  I am extremely grateful to all Chambersinvolved and the sponsors, Thomson Reuters (Sweet & Maxwell) Oxford University Press and Lexis Nexis, who without whose generous contributions these awards would not exist.

Details on how to apply can be found to the side of this message.  The closing date is 3rd October 2016.  Please contact Aaron, if you have any questions.

Can I thank all those who contributed to the joint Bar Council/ CBA response to the Lammy Review.  You can find their work HERE.

And finally a plea for some courtesy
Regular reports reach me about an increase in discourtesy by advocates to each other and to judges.  It is possible that the increasing demands on us and rising levels of stress contribute to this behaviour, but we must all take more care.  The best advocates can be remorseless and unyielding but never sink to personal rudeness.  Our system depends on mutual respect and all of us suffer each time somebody forgets their basic manners.  And as far as the lawyers are concerned it is no answer to say (as I am afraid some do), “the client likes it”.  Judicial bad manners should be met with a barrage of politeness and sweet reason.  Only a Lord Hutchinson has the right to answer a judge who could ‘hear what you say’ the with the instant riposte ‘it is apparent that you have heard what I said, and equally apparent that you have not understood a word of it’.  Just as the public at large is fed up with politicians who personalise attacks on their opponents, juries are turned off by advocates’ petty squabbling.  It is the client who suffers. 

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