Weekly Round Up 07.09.12
- We welcome Nigel Lithman QC as vice –chairman.
- I report back on the LSC and Disclosure.
- Two counsel consultation with the CPS. We give you your opportunity to comment.
- Challenging the Cuts for the Public Good. I make a call for information gathering and call for us to unite with the solicitor’s profession for the public good.
- We remind you that you still have an opportunity to comment on the QASA consultation.
- We remind you of the call for the appointment of CBA chambers representatives.
- We remind you of the newly formed bursary scheme for budding advocates.
- We announce forthcoming elections.
- We remind you of forthcoming important events.
1) Vice-Chairman in Post
We welcome Nigel Lithman QC who took up his post on Monday. He brings a wealth of experience and energy to the job and will help me keep up the speed so ably generated by Max Hill QC.
2) The Legal Services Commission
I am all too well aware of how many of you are hurting as a result of the payments regime. I met this week with Paul Benjamin (London chambers contact on pilot scheme) Tracey Courtney Williams (Contact for pilot chambers on country wide pilot) and Nichola Johansen. I very much got the impression that they are very genuine in their effort to assist Bar. The problem is not with the individuals trying to run the service but the resources at their disposal. The LSC still does not get all the information it should through its portal on Exhibit. Its computers are not compatible with those of the Court Service or those of the MOJ, of which they are becoming part. They will have no facilities to receive electronic documentation in Crime for at least 3 years. They still operate with a staff of 47. They tell me they have virtually cleared the backlog and are successfully working to determine payment within 6 weeks which will result in payment to the Bar in up to 8 weeks depending on the BACS run, which is weekly. It is clear to me that the Government has constructed a system which fails to fulfil its obligations under European Regulations to pay those it employs in any capacity within 4 weeks. If you wish to be conversant with the Late Payment Regulations click here. All of these points I have and will continue to press home with vigour to those who have the responsibility to run affairs in the public interest and potentially pursue in the courts. In the meantime I discussed practical measures to assist payment. Many of the problem cases are due to simple error on the part of the barrister or clerk. Next week we will include in the round up a ready check list for billing purposes. In the meantime we counsel you to look at the Bar Bulletins published by the LSC which set out the common problems. We draw your attention in particular to Issues 1 and 3 (click here) or http://www.legalservices.gov.uk/aboutus/how/bar_bulletin.asp. I am told that the LSC are intending to appoint a point of contact for groups of chambers which will work out as one point of contact per 50 sets. In the meantime I enclose the contacts for Paul Benjamin and Tracey Courtney-Williams. They will be able to deal with general issues and hardship. Email will be the most effective way to contact
Paul Benjamin – [email protected] 07739 079 153 (London Pilot)
Tracey Courtenay-Williams – [email protected] 07827 897 408 (Outside London pilot)
I attended a meeting at the Attorney General’s Office this week with a view to discussing updating the guidelines on disclosure. One problem is glaringly apparent as to how the system is now intended to operate, which no guidelines can cure. Increasingly, cases are conducted by a single prosecution counsel whether Leader or Junior. The only person who is therefore aware of the unused material is the reviewing lawyer, who in almost every case will be an in house CPS representative, who is not in Court during the trial. If prosecuting counsel instructed is therefore not conversant with the undisclosed material, it means that the duty to keep disclosure under review as the trial progresses can never be fulfilled. All defence counsel should be considering abuse of process applications if they find themselves in a trial where the prosecution disclosure obligations cannot be fulfilled. Regardless it is yet another example of cost saving which inevitably leads to a greater cost to the tax payer as cases collapse or are adjourned because disclosure obligations cannot be fulfilled. A recently adjourned murder trial at the Old Bailey proves the point, where instructed prosecution counsel only discovered a week into the trial that the main Crown witness had made a series of taped police interviews by way of preparation for her statement. In those circumstances one of the biggest losers is the victim themselves.
4) Two Counsel Consultation
Despite the glaring failings of the disclosure system the CPS is reviewing again its policy of instructing two counsel. The consultation document is here. There is, no surprises, a very tight dead line on this being 28th September. If you wish to express your views please feel free to do so on the CBA web site here.
5) Challenging the Cuts for the Public Good
It is quite apparent to all of us who practice in the Court system on a daily basis that the £350 million taken out of the Legal Aid System in reality produces no savings for the tax payer. We are all aware of the delays in the Court system that are now so endemic for a wide variety of reasons, to name but a few, GeoAmy not being able to transport prisoners to court on time or at all, translation supplied by Applied Language Solutions speaking the wrong language or being too few in number for those in the dock and of course the problems of disclosure. All these delays cost the public money, but no one appears to count that very real cost. Certain it is that the Government is making no effort to understand whether the money it has taken out of the system produces a saving in real terms. We cannot afford to conduct a lengthy research programme to prove what we already know as we experience it on a daily basis. What we can do with your help is gather day to day examples. Help us to help you and post them on the forum page on the CBA web site here.
It is apparent over the last year that many within the legal profession feel that there is no saving the sinking ship that is the publically funded independent Bar and the solicitors profession . In consequence, many are running for the life boats. In doing so they do no service to the public who have not been given the information which will enable them to understand that a corner stone of this democracy is about to be stolen from them at no cost saving whatsoever. It is time we stopped fighting over the life boats and stood shoulder to shoulder to educate the public and keep this vital ship afloat.
The QASA consultation (4th addition) is due for a response on the 9th October. Whilst we are busying ourselves preparing a response we welcome your views which have been strangely absent from the forum. View the consultation here and here to express your views.
7) CBA Representatives in Every Chambers
In last round–up of 27th July we asked all chambers to appoint a CBA liaison representative to ensure that we had a reliable point of contact and that information was widely disseminated. We will be sending a letter out asking each Chambers to forward those nominations. I trust they are in place.
8) CBA Bursary Awards
In July we announced the newly formed Bursary Award Scheme. This is in part a means tested award and given the harden times we live in we assume there would be plenty of takers. Click here to apply. We have extended the deadline for application to Friday 21st September to ensure the best take up. Given these wards apply to pupils and junior tenants we trust that senior members will bring this to their attention.
9) Forthcoming Elections
Elevation to the Bench, retirement and the like has opened spaces on the Committee for 2 Silks and 2 juniors of under 7 years call. Our brilliant Treasurer Ed Vickers comes to the end of his tenure in December and we are calling for a replacement. All elections will be held in October. In the case of the treasurer we want her/him time to bed in and understand our workings. Will you all please think about standing and nominations. The coming year is going to be a hard one and if you want our profession to survive we need the best candidates in place.
10) Forthcoming Events
Details and links for all forthcoming events are listed below. But I would like to give a plug for them all.
- Dinner in Honour of Retirement of Lord Justice Hooper and The Retired and Retiring Old Bailey Judges.
There are no more than 200 places available for this event. If you do not wish to be present to honour their contributions we presume you must either be dead or out or fleeing the jurisdiction. Book now or be disappointed.
Click below to book:
- The Kalisher Lecture
A stellar event this year supported as always by the CBA. Click here for details and booking
- The Bar Conference
From a CBA perspective we will plough alien territory at this year’s event. The speakers at the CBA slot will be Clive Stafford Smith (giving an in-sight on the direction of travel) Roger Smith, Director of Justice (on the attack in secrecy in the Court) and the now retired Sir Tony Hooper (giving an un-muzzled perspective). I will then seek to set out our direction of travel for the year. If you never attended a Bar Conference this is one you will want to be at.
Criminal Bar Association Bursary Fund 2012:
Applications are invited for awards from the Criminal Bar Association Bursary Fund.
Major Bursaries of up to £5,000 will be awarded to successful applicants. Other bursaries will include annual subscriptions to the leading practitioners’ textbooks.
The Bursary Fund is generously supported by leading legal publishers Thomson Reuters (Sweet & Maxwell) and Oxford University Press.
The award competition is open to members of the CBA who have been in independent practice for no more than 3 years from the start of pupillage. The fund is designed to assist those who are from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Please complete the application form HERE and return it, together with a reference from the applicant’s Head of Chambers, to the CBA Administrator, Aaron Dolan [email protected] by 14th September 2012. The application form requires details of background and means together with a reference from the Applicant’s Head of Chambers (or pupil supervisor if a reference from the Head of Chambers is unavailable).
The assessment will be primarily means-tested; poor performance in school exams will therefore not be determinative but will assist the panel in assessing the applicant’s suitability.
The 8 most deserving applicants will be invited to compete in an advocacy exercise to be held in October, judged by the Chairman of the CBA. The bursary awards will be presented at the Old Bailey after the Ann Goddard Memorial Lecture on 6th November.
The document for the Sussex area as sent by The List Officer at Chichester Crown Court can be found HERE
The document for the Leeds, Bradford and York area as sent by The Resident Judges at Chichester Crown Court can be found HERE
Bar Council/SIAC seminar 28th September-call for applications for speaking slots:
We are looking for speakers for a joint Bar Council and Singapore International Arbitration Centre seminar that will focus on international arbitration, taking place on 28 September at 4pm.
More information on the seminar topics and speaker selection criteria is available HERE. Please note that the application deadline is 5pm on Wednesday 12 September.
Health Support and Advice for the Bar – Law Care:
LawCare provides an independent and confidential service which assists members of the Law Societies of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the Isle of Man; the Institute of Legal Executives; the Bar Councils of England and Wales, the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland; the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland; the Department of Justice; the Institute of Barristers Clerks; and the National Association of Paralegals. This is a confidential advisory service to help lawyers, their immediate families and their support staff to deal with the health issues and related emotional difficulties that can result from a stressful career as a lawyer, or working with lawyers. LawCare is there to support and assist you, too.
LawCare offers you the opportunity to discuss problems that are interfering with, or have the potential to interfere with, your work performance and / or your family life and to seek to help in resolving these problems.
Through LawCare, help is available to those who are suffering from stress and/or depression, or who have alcohol, drug or other dependency concerns, or eating disorders.
There is a helpline which is open 365 days a year:-
9am – 7.30pm, Monday to Friday
10am – 4pm Saturday, Sunday and UK Bank Holidays
0800 018 4299
Further details can be found on the website here
Follow the chairman on twitter:
Joint Debate – CBA/LRC:
Thursday 20th September 2012
Large Pension Room, Grays Inn
Booking details HERE.
A Dinner in Honour of Hooper LJ and the Retiring Bailey Judges:
Friday 28th September 2012
Stationers Hall, London
Online booking HERE
The Kalisher Lecture:
“Experience is by industry achieved”
Given by Martin Shaw, Kalisher trustee and Bencher of Gray’s Inn
Tuesday 16th October 2012
The Royal College of Surgeons
Booking details to follow
CBA Autumn Conference:
Saturday 3rd November 2012
Venue to be confirmed
Booking details to follow.
Old Bailey Lecture:
Work of the Sentencing Council
Tuesday 6th November 2012
The Old Bailey
Booking details to follow.
Old Bailey Lecture:
Research on Juries
Tuesday 4th December 2012
The Old Bailey
Booking details to follow.
Thomson Reuters Professional Pioneers – Leading Criminal Chambers:
Thomson Reuters is looking for criminal barristers to join a Professional Pioneers group. As members, you would meet as a group for evening drinks twice a year to exchange views and ideas, on a variety of subjects ranging from current challenges and trends to new opportunities as well as how you use legal information and products. At each gathering, Thomson Reuters plan to facilitate a speaker and discussion around a chosen topic and look forward to hearing your views.
If you would like to be a part of this, or would like further information, please contact Sian Lefort at [email protected]
CPS Guidance on Rape Specialist Advocates:
Rape specialist advocates – new guidance:
The CPS have recently issued guidance to their staff on the approach to be taken when instructing rape specialist advocates, particularly when the instructed advocate is not available and a stand-in has to attend an interim hearing. The guidance is not contentious and should be helpful to Chambers. The guidance was issued by Charlotte Triggs, CPS policy advisor on 28 August 2012.
The guidance states:
Rape Specialist Prosecutors and paralegal officers/caseworkers responsible for briefing advocates in rape cases are asked to note an amendment to chapter 16 of the CPS Legal Guidance on Rape and Sexual Offences.
The new section headed ‘The Instructed Advocate’ emphasises that wherever possible the instructed advocate should conduct the hearing, including defence applications for bail and other interlocutory hearings. Where they are not available another accredited advocate from the same Chambers (or a CPS rape specialist in the case of an in-house HCA) should conduct the hearing having been briefed by the instructed advocate. Where no such alternative advocate is available, a non-accredited advocate (or non-rape specialist HCA) may be instructed but only where the instructed advocate is able to speak directly to their replacement and ensure they are fully briefed on the circumstances of the case.
The aim of this guidance is to ensure that rape cases are prosecuted to the highest possible standard and if not by the instructed advocate by an alternative advocate who is fully briefed by the instructed advocate on all relevant matters.
Secretary of State for Justice:
Chris Grayling has today been announced as the Secretary of State for Justice following a Ministerial reshuffle. He was previously Minister of State for Employment at the Department of Work and Pensions.
Speaking about the appointment, Permanent Secretary Ursula Brennan said: “I’m delighted to welcome Chris Grayling to the Ministry of Justice, who joins us in the midst of a radical programme to reform the justice system. I’d also like to pay tribute to our previous Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, for the leadership he has given the department and the extent of the reform that he has delivered”.
International News & Events
For the latest upcoming international Events and opportunities click here
What makes a good witness? Presenting evidence in the courtroom
Visually-recorded evidence in chief is thought to produce the most comprehensive and accurate record of the interview process and be best evidence. But is this really the case? We are currently conducting a research project examining views from criminal justice professionals regarding the issue of the medium in which evidence in chief is presented. A topic that has driven interesting debate nationally. The research concerns three inter-related areas; (i) your views regarding your perceptions of witness testimony and certain terms that are often used when determining its credence, (ii) your views on the way the police gather information and how this impacts on witness evidence in chief, and (iii) your perceptions of the medium in which evidence in chief is presented in the courtroom. As part of the on-going research we would be grateful if you could take some of your valuable time to complete the questionnaire using the link provided below. It should take about 15 minutes to complete and participation is anonymous. If you would like to discuss this further or for any other information relating to the research and for related publications on these issues please contact either Jemma Hodgkins, [email protected] or Dr Rebecca Milne, Reader in Forensic Psychology, Director of the Centre of Forensic Interviewing, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth. [email protected] or on (+44) 2392 843 927. Thank you for your assistance.
The Bar Council and Singapore International Arbitration Centre seminar that will focus on international arbitration:
28 September at 4pm at Gray’s Inn, London
The seminar is In follow up to a successful seminar run jointly with SIAC in Singapore in March this year. A panel of Singaporean and English Counsel will examine financial services disputes, fast track remedies and ethical debates in international arbitration. The International Committee Chairman, Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC will Chair the session and the Hon Justice Sundaresh Menon, judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Singapore, will give an opening address. The speaker panel members will be announced closer to the time.
The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception at 18.30.
The event is credited by the BSB with 1.5 CPD hours and is free to attend. If you are interested in attending, please register by email by 21 September.
The event is sponsored by COMBAR.
Further details found HERE
Science and Justice Conference: The Criminal Court
Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge, London SE1, Robens Suite
For further details and to register your attendance please contact Lesley Nott, BAFS Administration on: [email protected]
The Slynn Foundation are delighted that The RT Hon the Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers KG, who will retire as President of the UK Supreme Court in September, has agreed to deliver the 10th Slynn Foundation Lecture on Monday 12 November 2012. More details will follow but please note the date.View more news