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Monday Message 17.10.16

Chairman’s Update: 
Francis FitzGibbon QC


Bar Conference
The CBA was active at Bar & Young Bar Conference on Saturday: Angela Rafferty QC was on the panel for the young Bar’s Open Forum, discussing the many challenges and opportunities for entrants to the profession. Sarah Vine and I, together with Executive Committee member Rosina Cottage QC, gave a seminar on ‘Courtcraft’ and soft skills. The audience participated enthusiastically. I promised to give details of an acute and hilarious commentary on advocates’ bad behaviour by a Judge in Ontario: here it is. It’s worth reading.
The Conference brought over 500 people together from all sections of the Bar. It showed decisively that for all our different specialisations, we are a united profession – and long may we remain one.
The Conference also marked the launch of the Well-Being at the Bar Portal. Please look at it. This is not simply designed for those in crisis. We would all do well to familiarise ourselves with the website and the resources available there, in order to prevent avoidable problems and to deal properly with unavoidable ones. The business case for incorporating wellbeing into our responsibilities is perfectly clear; as a profession, we cannot afford to tolerate the stigma attached to mental health issues. The strains of our job are increasing, and too many of our membership are battling with intolerable levels of stress, with addiction, with vicarious trauma or other ‘collateral damage’. The CBA is asking all our members to consider implementing the Policy and Practice recommendations for promoting wellbeing in their own chambers.
Ched Evans
People who should know better have said that Mr Evans’s acquittal is a ‘rapist’s charter’ and it has ‘put the law back 30 years’. Social media is bristling with threats to him, his accuser, the judges, and the lawyers. The CBA stands firmly behind the advocates in this case, who each did their professional best for their clients, and gave the jury the best possible accounts of their respective cases. The appellate and trial judges thought this case had exceptional features that, for once, justified questions about a complainant’s previous sexual history. The baying mob on Twitter and their friends in the press obviously know better.
Almost all parts of the media, social or mainstream, routinely misinform the public about trials and lawyers. Once the wrong ideas are planted it’s difficult to get them out of people’s heads. Weak or unscrupulous politicians then feel obliged to go with the wrong ideas instead of challenging them. As lawyers we find it difficult to make a case for ourselves, but we should miss no opportunity to state publicly that myths are myths, and do whatever we can to correct them.
Bar Council Election
Final reminder: voting closes on 19 October. The CBA supports the candidacies of Paul Mendelle QC, Max Hardy, Grace Ong, Rupert Jones, Benjamin Seifert and Puneet Grewal.   It is important that the Criminal Bar continues to be well represented on the Bar Council. You can read the statements of all the candidates here.
Kerim Fuad QC, who has been the CBA’s (and the South Eastern Circuit’s) point-man on Better Case Management with assistance from Aaron Dolan and Adam Morgan, has written to Circuit and CBA members, requesting information for improvements to the system in general and to PTPHs in particular. Please help with this by completing submitting the requested data or completing the the online survey.  Full details here.

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