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Monday Message – 27.11.23

Dear colleagues and friends,

CBA RASSO Training Programme

On Friday evening we welcomed guests to a presentation in the Parliament Chamber of Inner Temple to launch our CBA RASSO Training Programme.

We know that RASSO cases demand the most skilled criminal advocates, are witness intensive, require detailed and careful preparation at an early stage and that fees do not reflect the seriousness or nature of the work involved.  We want Government to respect and invest in the expertise of criminal barristers who dedicate themselves to this area of work.  Women at the Criminal Bar have feared being pigeon-holed in conducting RASSO cases, which undoubtedly they have been and many have difficulty building careers on work that has been seen as less important, less well paid and less respected.  That must change, being RASSO Counsel is a mark of excellence.

We intend to work with other experts and draw on their knowledge and learning including the judiciary, the CPS, Bar Council, BSB, the Inns as well as psychiatrists, psychologists and experts in trauma.  By bringing all this expertise together our training programme will not only provide a consistent approach to RASSO work but will ensure we continue to maintain our high standards now and well into the future.  All RASSO Counsel and those yet to come should know that they are recognized, respected and will be rewarded for their dedication to this challenging area of public service.

The new CBA RASSO Training Programme will be rolled out next year. With thanks to our Vice-Chair Mary Prior KC and her team for the work in developing the programme.

CBA Elections

We had five vacancies and with five nominations we are delighted to confirm the following CBA members’ will join the Executive Committee from January 2024.

Under 7 Years’ Call:

  • Ruba Huleihel of Pump Court Chambers
  • Anthony James of Mountford Chambers

Over 7 Years’ Call:

  • Paramjit Ahluwalia of One Pump Court
  • Mary Aspinall-Miles of 12CP Barristers
  • Dawn Pritchard of Bank House Chambers

Many thanks to those stepping down on 31st December, we are grateful for your contribution to the work of the CBA:

  • Matthew Radstone of 25 Bedford Row
  • Tomas McGarvey of 2 Bedford Row
  • Grace Cowell of Pump Court Chambers

Good News – Good Practice Guidance on Certificates for Assigned Advocate in the Youth Court

The significance of this guidance should not be underestimated, it recognises the complexity and importance of Youth Court work. The Youth Court should no longer be considered analogous to the Magistrates’ Court – it is a specialist court. The government has already committed to an additional £5.1 million of legal aid funding for the Youth Court in 2024, likely to be distributed in an uplift in all indictable cases through LGFS.

In 2015, the Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review found that the Youth Court was a ‘training ground’ for junior advocates. It was described as being sidelined by the profession where barristers and solicitors ‘cut their teeth’. This practice is not acceptable. Solicitors will want to instruct barristers with the competency to undertake grave and complex cases, providing continuity of representation and the level of expertise and experience that child defendants deserve.

A consistent approach to granting Certificates for Counsel paves the way for children facing serious cases to be represented by experienced counsel. Similarly, it should ensure that barristers wishing to specialise in representing children can build a sustainable practice and career.

We thank Kate Aubrey-Johnson and her team for her hard work on this Guidance and the Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring for ensuring it comes into effect.

Read the guidance here

Thanks for attending the CBA Winter Conference

We were delighted so many of you attended our Winter Conference at the Inner Temple last Saturday.  We were honoured to welcome Lady Chief Justice Carr who gave the keynote address and thank all the excellent speakers who gave up their time (as well as all of you!) to share learning together for the day.  The legal updates on identification, gang evidence and admissibility of expert evidence are common legal issues that we deal with on a daily basis.  With thanks to Charlotte Newell KC, Paul Jarvis and the Education and Training Committee for all they do to keep us up-to-date.

Please note the Operational Opening of Court 11 at Wood Green Crown Court here. Read it here

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