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Monday Message – 19.06.23

Happy Father’s Day for yesterday, the third Sunday in June.

If you weren’t presented with a feast, a CBA complaints hotline will be opened shortly, as Dads have been celebrated by European Catholics with a feast since the middle ages, originally on Saint Joseph’s Day, 19th March.

The annual day itself has origins in the United States and is credited to Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by a single father along with her five brothers, after their mother died during childbirth in 1898, when she was 16 years’ old.

The first Father’s Day was marked on 19th June 1910 at Ms. Dodd’s home of Spokane, Washington. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson sent a telegraph to Spokane praising Father’s Day services. In 1966, the third Sunday of June was proclaimed as Father’s Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Nixon established it as a permanent national observance and federal holiday in 1972.

Lord Chief Justice

Congratulations to Dame Sue Carr DBE, appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1st October 2023.

She is the first female Lord Chief Justice in history.

She will be able to choose her own title. It will interesting to see if she adopts the gender neutral title of “Chief Justice”, used in many other jurisdictions.

You can read more about her here

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett of Maldon

On 14th June, the Lord Chief Justice gave evidence, for the last time in this position, before the Constitution Committee.

He made the important point that an excellent justice system should be seen in broader society context.

I would add, as I have long argued, that a high-level functioning criminal justice system provides confidence in investment and confidence in the choice of the jurisdiction of England and Wales for commercial litigation. Crumbling courts, delays and general ongoing crisis in the criminal courts shake confidence in the justice system as a whole; as well as reducing our system to the level of those in developing jurisdictions with attendant wider negative impacts.

From the Lord Chief Justice’s evidence:

One of the struggles I have had in my time as Lord Chief Justice is to raise the eyes of the Treasury above the immediate balance sheet, if I can call it that, of money into the system, what is delivered and what can be saved.

In other words, the way that government seems to work is to see the administration of justice as just another service. It is not just another service, but something that underpins everything that goes on in society. Without a functioning judiciary and administration of justice, and without a strong commitment to the rule of law, business will not flourish; society will not flourish.

In recent years, a lot of work has been done on the underlying value of these things. Nobody would suggest that the value of education, for example, is to be calculated by the amount, in GDP terms, that it contributes each year to the economy, because, clearly, an educated society is one that will deliver prosperity and long-term benefits. The same can be said of health. No doubt, the health sector does generate many billions in GDP each year, but that is not what the point is.

The rule of law and the administration of justice is in the same sort of category. We have done work on this and have been speaking about it. I and other judges have given lectures on it. There is a greater understanding that the rule of law is one of the building blocks of prosperity.

In answer to this question from Baroness Andrews:

You were talking about your engagement with the Treasury to make it understand the relationship between the rule of law and a prosperous and secure society. I do not know whether this is out of order, but have you had a conversation about the conditions in the courts, the frustration throughout the profession about the delays and so on, when you make the case for more resources for the legal system?

Lord Chief Justice (extract):

There continues to be a problem, more in some parts of the country than others, in securing advocates to appear in all the cases that are listed, both for the defence and the prosecution, and that, I am afraid, is the result of a long term undermining and attrition of the criminal legal profession, and that is going to take time to repair. But the good news at least is that there is now as much work in the Crown Court as anyone is able and wishes to do. Any lawyer can be fully engaged, and part of the problem in the past, when the volume of cases was falling and the sitting days were falling up to COVID, was that not only was the rate of pay for the lawyers very poor, but actually there were too many lawyers for the work available. So we are now, at least the second part of that, in a different position.

I recommend you read the evidence in full.

My thanks to the Lord Chief Justice for his availability to discuss issues I have raised on behalf of CBA members and move forward with remedies where he has been able to do so.

Thanks also to Dame Victoria Sharp DBE for her time and input as Deputy Head of Criminal Justice.

Chair’s Essay Award

I am delighted to launch this inaugural award, open to under 7 years’ call barristers.

Select a title and enter.

There are three prizes of £3000 for each essay winner.

You can only enter once.

Details of how to enter and essay titles here.

London Legal Walk

We were a small but powerful team, fuelled on food and drink, provided by Doughty Street Chambers.

It was a sparkling walk.

I carried CBA T-shirts with me, intending to bestow them on any criminal barrister I saw on the route.

That plan sank as heavily as the sack on my back.

If you would like a T-shirt, write to us with one idea as to what you would like the CBA to focus upon over the next year and the first few will be rewarded with a CBA T-shirt.  please reply to this email with your suggestion.

The CBA donations page still is open.

Donations go to legal help for those who are the most vulnerable in society; facing homelessness, debt, poverty, exploitation and discrimination.

CBA On Tour

Last week we were welcomed and hosted by the Midland Circuit at St. Philips chambers in Birmingham.

We held our Heads of Chambers’ meeting from their beautiful conference room, before drinks to meet the senior and juniors.

Particular thanks to Michelle Heeley KC, Leader of the Midland Circuit and Richard Atkins KC and senior clerk, Andrew Rourke.

Thanks to those who attended.

Your time and input was valuable and appreciated.

Heads of Chambers – thank you to all who attended the meeting last week; we focused on listing and well-being.

CBA Vice-Chair Nominations

Nominations are now invited for the position of Vice Chair of the Criminal Bar Association.

These should be sent by email to the administrator.

Nominations must be received by 16.00hrs on Friday 30th June 2023.

Those wishing to stand must be either King’s Counsel or Senior Treasury Counsel and must be a member of the CBA.

Nominees must be proposed and seconded by members of the CBA by email to the administrator.

The successful candidate will be expected to take over as Chair in September 2024, having served as Vice Chair the previous year.

Meeting with HMCTS Chief Executive

I had a constructive meeting with Nick Goodwin, where we discussed listing, complaints from clerks that they cannot speak to a listing officer (at certain courts), late changes in lists, the need for more court staff as well as suitable remuneration to attract and retain them.

I was informed that the review of the workforce make-up shows that permanent staff has now been increased slightly versus those on fixed-term or agency contracts.

This is positive news as the turn-over of court staff should be stabilised by the use of a permanent staff model rather than agency staff model.

For those interested, the 2021/22 Annual Report and Accounts outlines the workforce numbers over the past few years (page 63). The  2022/23 report will include data from the last financial year when it is published next month.

HMCTS helpfully followed up our meeting, in writing. It has indicated that it continues to carefully monitor and manage workforce levels to ensure they are right for delivering what is needed operationally.

So, keep the evidence of operational difficulties in the courts flowing to our email by replying to this email or [email protected].

We will ensure they are forwarded to HMCTS.

I raised with Mr. Goodwin the state of court buildings and also the importance for barristers, as well as for family and friends of defendants and sometimes witnesses, to be able to get a cuppa.

In the absence of an attractive business plan for catering companies at courts with lower footfall, I also enquired whether voluntary services to the court were no longer available. I recall that community members used to enjoy supporting their local court with tea and coffee.

The Crown Court Open days this year also highlighted the interest that people have in their criminal justice system.

Vending machines, of course, are easy to install.

We also spoke about the Common Platform and issues raised on behalf of the CBA by Paul Keleher KC. Communication is ongoing.

There is no dispute that the HMCTS needs to work closely with the CBA on the Common Platform.

Trilateral Meeting with the DPP/wellbeing/prosecution fees

As DPP, Max Hill KC, is coming to the end of his term and he has been an effective person to work alongside on prosecution fees.

I joined Bar Chair Nick Vineall KC and the DPP and the CPS team in discussions about all things criminal justice.

We discussed inappropriate overlisting, well-being of barristers and queried whether there could be support by the CPS for barristers who are subjected to unacceptable judicial behaviour. This latter point is being further considered.

A contact telephone line for prosecutors wishing to discuss trauma felt from their cases will go live in the next 2- 3 weeks.

Prosecution fees also were discussed with the CPS awaiting the result of the ongoing review of the AGFS section 28 bolt-on fee.

There was helpful ideas about attracting barristers to work on RASSO cases.

The CBA RASSO group launch will be announced shortly.

Fighting Knife Crime

CBA policy work considers the interface between justice and society.

This week I am looking at Bruce Houlder KC’s fantastic work and ask you to consider how you might get involved, including through a small donation.

From Bruce Houlder KC:

As barristers we thrive on representation, and we should never forget the same skills can be used for extraordinary social advantage.   Away from criminal practice, I still feel I am pulling against a tide of long-term neglect. Social deprivation gets worse for the ‘Children of the Poor’, which the ceiling motif in the Great Hall of the Central Criminal Court enjoins us, in the words of the Psalmist, to defend. So, what do we do now?

Our main concern must be to try to prevent young people in London ever entering the criminal justice system. We can show them new and exciting pathways relevant to their lives. This is what respect should mean. Young people can be amazing. They start with aspirations and dreams, which they feel are subverted by poor politics, and sometimes quite unimaginable domestic circumstances.  So, of course they feel abandoned, and seek a different peer group. Sentencing policy sometimes just reduce life chances.

Www.fightingknifecrime.London  (FKCL) and its social media aim to make it easier for all those who have any concerns for a young person anywhere in London, to find solutions.  The cost benefit can be enormous. FKCL launched in June 2021, instantly providing Greater London with its most broad-based resource yet; a directory covering every borough, a quarterly online magazine, podcasts, videos, a news area, and an ever-expanding public library of resources. Our most active and experienced partners, working directly with young people, now daily lend their support to see FKCL is the best resource it can be. There is more to do. FKCL take no public money for all of this. No other website in London yet offers such a broad range of information resources to help young people.

It’s no surprise that FKCL needs funds to pay our committed web designers at Iconic Media Solutions Ltd, who also maintain our social media. No one else is paid, but good work requires support. Please consider a donation here. Tax relief is directly available through our association with the justice and social impact charity, Catch22, who manage the funds,

Please, please take a full look at the website, and see what FKCL offers. If you work in a law centre, or have access to a school, youth organisation or club, please download our poster here. Please print it out and put it up. Add a new project to our directory here. The QR codes directly access information to help young people. How easy is that?

Next week

I will look at an intensive court supervision pilot on substance misuse, commencing  in Liverpool Crown Court on 26th June 2023.

Old Bailey Choir Concert 27th June 2023

It looks amazing. Rupert Pardoe is singing, accompanied by Andrew Bankfield.

It is almost criminal that the price is only £15. It is in aid of the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund.













Final words

Ms. Dodd died at the age of 96 years’ old, in 1978.

She lived to see her dream realised of a national day for fathers across the United States.

Whilst not everything is possible, only a few committed individuals are required to make positive change.

Keep communicating and volunteering to work with the CBA.

It is your CBA.










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