Monday Message 11.12.23
Dear colleagues and friends,
YCBA Lecture and Spring Conference 2024
I was delighted to join Emma Fielding of the YCBA this week as she welcomed HHJ Avik Mukherjee and Mrs. Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb to our first YCBA lecture. They delivered guidance on effective opening and closing speeches to our members with reminders of our core duties as professionals, the need for neutrality and improvements on delivery. We thank both for giving up their time and for providing some extremely useful tips!
This lecture was in advance of our YCBA Spring Conference which will be announced in the new year. The YCBA Spring Conference will be dedicated to members under 7 years’ Call and we hope to provide resources at the Conference to support, guide and cheer all Junior criminal barristers.
Bar Council report on Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination at the Bar 2023
This report makes bleak reading with 44% of barristers reporting experience of bullying, harassment or discrimination in the past 2 years and 59% of those confirming that it took place at court. Ridicule, demeaning language and a misuse of power or position were most notable at the criminal and family Bars. It is vital to shine a light on behaviour and language that has no place in our profession or the criminal courts. The criminal Bar itself is much reduced as a workforce and is under extreme pressure with many close to exhaustion, we should not have to face rudeness, aggression or inappropriate behaviour.
This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of our duties to the court, our colleagues and others that work alongside us, we all need to consider whether we are giving of our best and living up to our reputation for dignity, independence and integrity. An apology can go a long way if we recognise we have not behaved as we should have.
If any member of the criminal Bar is subject to bullying, harassment or discrimination this should be reported using the Bar Council TalktoSpot app. This is a confidential way of reporting something that causes concern which the Bar Council will consider, even if logged anonymously, and the complaint will be monitored to see if a pattern of behaviour is evident.
CBA Response to the JSC inquiry into the use of Section 28 pre-recorded cross-examination
We thank Riel Karmy-Jones KC and the elite barristers of the RASSO group again for their dedicated hard work on producing our Response. The aim of all procedures involving individual witnesses should be to enable them to give the best evidence possible but Section 28 in the view of the Criminal Bar Association should be bespoke to particular needs of witnesses.
The Criminal Bar Association advocates a review of special measures, a protocol to promote a consistent approach to Section 28, appropriate listing for specialist Section 28/RASSO Counsel and new and accredited training for specialist Counsel (which we are developing for anticipated roll-out next year). In addition this work must be properly remunerated with Prosecution fees brought into line with Defence fees.
The importance of assisting witnesses, particularly children and those with vulnerabilities, to give evidence in our criminal courts must be seen as work that is respected, recognised and properly remunerated. We continue to maintain our position that funding allocated to Section 28 must be paid out to those taking on the additional work as a result of the Section 28 procedure being adopted.
Please see Crime News introducing the revised guidance here.
Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) Entry Requirements from 02.01.24
Please note the new requirement to enter the court and their ‘Wigs & Gowns’ policy in light of increased security threats, to exit the Court.
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