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Monday Message 19.12.16

Chairman’s Update: 
Francis FitzGibbon QC

The year draws to a close. For the criminal Bar, it has been mercifully free of the turbulence of the last few years. Long may that continue.
CBA Business
The Executive Committee met on 13 December – thanks to all those who attended in person or by phone.
The delayed election of Committee members will now take place in January – Aaron will provide details in due course. Meanwhile, all those whose terms have expired will continue as co-opted members pending the election.
The Committee has approved the Officers’ proposal to hold a Spring Ball in instead of the Dinner next year, probably in conjunction with the SE Circuit – details to follow.
We aim to hold at least two Committee meetings on Circuit next year – again, details to follow.
The Committee thanked Kerim Fuad QC for his work over many years, and congratulated him on his appointment as leader of the SE Circuit.
New Bar Leaders
We acknowledge with gratitude the enormously accomplished leadership that Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC has given to the whole profession during her term as Chair of the Bar. And we look forward to that leadership continuing under Andrew Langdon QC, himself the former leader of the Western Circuit and a criminal Silk of the first order.  Read the inaugural speech here. 
We also congratulate Nigel Sangster QC, Paul Hopkins QC and Michael Hayton QC on their appointments as leaders respectively of the NE, W&C and N Circuits.
Children & Criminal Justice
The MOJ has published the long awaited Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales, by Charlie Taylor. It proposes radical changes, making children’s welfare paramount. Here are some of the headlines:
Devolving youth justice services to local government so that the full range of social, health, education and other community services are made available at a local level, under the inspection of Ofsted.

  • MOJ and Department of Education to set up secure schools with a proper system of education at their core.
  • Setting a limit of six hours detention in a police station after arrest
  • Supplying legal representation as a presumption, unless the child specifically declines it
  • Review the fees for Youth Court cases, raise their status and improve the quality of legal representation for children.
  • Mandatory training for all lawyers appearing in the Youth Court.
  • All cases involving children should be heard in the Youth Court, with suitably qualified judges being brought in to oversee the most complex or serious cases in suitably modified proceedings.

There’s much more. If these proposals become law, there’s a good chance that they will close the revolving doors of neglect, poor care, offending, more poor care, custody and re-offending.  The CBA’s working group on youth justice will consider the implications of the report and give all possible assistance to policy makers
Just to remind you, the new CPD scheme starts on 1stJanuary. CPD Accreditation from the BSB will cease then. Those under three years’ call will still need to undertake the New Practitioners Programme (NPP), which remains in place, save that activities will not be BSB-accredited.
For everyone else, the new scheme has no requirement to complete a minimum number of hours. We can choose our activities more widely. We are asked to do four things: (i) prepare a plan for the year ahead, setting out the learning objectives we intend to achieve (which are not set in stone – they can vary over the year; (ii) keep a written record of what we have done and of any variations in the original plan; (iii) reflect on the planned and completed activities; (iv) declare to the BSB that we have completed our plan at the end of the year.
This arrangement seems to me to be more grown-up than the fraught scramble for points than one has sometimes had to go in for in the past as the year ends. Possibly more demanding, but a scheme like this should show the world that barristers are serious about keeping themselves fully abreast with the law and practice, and are willing to learn and develop. I think of it as giving clear proof that we have the quality that we claim for ourselves.
Women’s Silk Mentoring
The first seminar, “Overcoming Impostor syndrome:  Female Career Progression at the Criminal Bar” is being held on 12 January 2017 at 18.00
 in the Parliament Chamber, Middle Temple, London. It will be hosted by a panel of leading silks.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful break over Christmas and the New Year. This will be the last Monday Message of 2016. Back with a bang after the Bank Holiday, on 3 January.

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