Weekly Round Up 19.10.12
CBA Chairman’s Update: Michael Turner QC:
Chairman’s Update: Friday 19th October
- QASA: Bar Council joins the attack
- A Tale of Woe on the Fees Front
- Concern on the Practice of Paperless Trials
- The CBA Kalisher Lecture: A Superb defence of the Bar and democracy from a surprising source, a report back.
- The Bar Nursery: A great Bar Council Initiative and one requiring your feedback.
- Elections: We need strong representation in these troubled times
- CBA Subscriptions: A Change of Approach. Your views sought.
- Upcoming Events.
- 1. QASA
The Bar Council through its Chairman Michael Todd QC has voiced its strong concerns over QASA [read here]. An approach which has been welcomed by our brothers and sisters in the solicitors profession [ read here]. We are not a lone voice on the legality of the scheme and a number of associations have expressed similar views to that of the CBA. I provide but one example with the kind permission of the Bar European Group [here] When we are at liberty to do we will publish all.
2. A Tale of Woe on the Fees Front
A concerned member of the Association wrote as follows:
I am a member of the Criminal Bar Association. I represented a man today who faced trial by jury in relation to an allegation of possessing a few ounces of cannabis with intent to supply.
A large aspect of the prosecution case was that he also had on his person over £2,000 in cash. The matter had been listed for a number hearings in advance of today :-
- a Pleas and Case Management Hearing,
- a pre-trial review,
- for trial (but stood out as the prosecution wanted to make enquiries with HMRC in relation to the purported legitimate earnings of the defendant as a builder).
- A further pre-trial review in readiness of today’s hearings when it was not clear if the HMRC enquiries had come to any fruition and further documents were provided to the prosecution to demonstrate the fact that the defendant received cash and worked with cash in the course of his honest trade as a builder.
Today the prosecution accepted they could no longer safely suggest the cash on his person was anything to do with drug dealing. They determined that the loss of such a large aspect of their case meant that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. They added a second count alleging simple possession to which the defendant pleaded guilty.
The prosecution offered no evidence on the original count and a formal verdict of not guilty was entered. The defendant was sentenced by way of a 12-month Conditional Discharge.
During the course of the morning as everything was being ironed out I found out that the defendant had elected jury trial in the teeth of the magistrates’ decision to accept jurisdiction.
This means – I believe – that the five barristers who have covered the case’s five hearings will have to share a fixed fee of £196 (196 / 5 = £39.20 before tax and chambers’ rent).
Despite the obvious fact that the prosecution offered no evidence on the allegation upon which the defendant had elected trial by jury.
Should any members of the Criminal Bar accept work for remuneration which is well below the minimum wage? Express your views [here].
3. Concern on the Practice of Paperless Trials
Another concerned member of the Association brought this to our attention:-
Chambers has recently agreed to provide agency cover for the CPS to prosecute cases in the magistrates’ courts. This was in response to a communication which I understand was sent to all criminal chambers inviting them to offer cover at standard pre – set agency rates of £200 per full day session.
A standard set of terms and conditions were sent out to all Chambers participating. One of the stipulations concerned the method of getting the papers to the allocated external advocate in advance.
Chambers has agreed to provide agency cover from amongst junior tenants and at the present is providing cover for approximately 10 – 15 full day sessions per week.
That stipulation was that papers would be delivered electronically, to one central Chambers’ CJSM account by 3.30pm the day before.
There are two issues we would like to bring to the attention of the CBA:
1. The immediate problems caused on a day to day basis with the issue of the provisions of files.
2. The wider implications we perceive in terms of the operations of paperless prosecutions generally in the future (and in anticipation of the scheme operating in the Crown Court).
Before proceeding to these issues, we wish to stress that we raise these issues in co-operative spirit, acknowledging the real help we have received from CPS staff at “ground level” (including weekend work on their part) to sort out the practical problems and ensure that we, in partnership with the CPS, can offer the most problem free prosecution service possible in the circumstances.
ISSUE 1 IMMEDIATE PROBLEMS
- The 10 megabyte capacity of a single cjsm account is wholly inadequate for the receipt of multiple CPS files. On an anecdotal basis, when I recently had cause in the course of a Crown Court case to send about 300 pages as a PDF scan to my opponent on CJSM (with the full authority of the CPS), it took about 20 – 30% of my CJSM memory capacity. Simple mathematics shows that if one therefore tries to send even enough files (say four or five trial files) for a single day’s CPS mags list it will rapidly logjam the cjsm account.
- Even if the CPS would allow delivery to individuals’ cjsm accounts for the present scheme (which it does not), trying to administer this in practice would cause untold difficulties in the case of late in the day returns, access by individuals (it is very easy to get locked out of cjsm and this can only be cured by ringing the helpdesk in office hours), notifying an individual to ensure they have sufficient cjsm memory capacity left etc anyway
- There have been repeated instances of CPS staff assuring clerks they have sent files but clerks for whatever reason not receiving them
- Because of the capacity issues, members concerned, and clerks, have agreed that the only practical solution for now is that all papers will have to be printed by the clerks – at massive expense of time and money.
- Only on two sessions covered have hard copy files actually been available at court.
- Cases frequently get swapped at a moment’s notice between courts in the same magistrates court centre. If one prosecutor is on their feet in the middle of a trial it then becomes impossible to be sending another file to the advocate next door, even assuming secure internet connectivity etc. Ditto printing issues.
- In at least one recent case such issues were a contributory (but not sole) cause of a case having to be dropped because the court refused to allow an adjournment
- Use of laptops impractical for a very fast moving traffic list in court (eg 100 seat belt / red light cases etc) because of the way documents / files are electronically arranged
- The above is a sample list of problems; by no means exhaustive of even about six advocates’ collective recent experience of two weeks of such working.
ISSUE 2 WIDER, FUTURE ISSUES
- This very recent and relatively short experience only causes us greater concern as to how the problems might manifest themselves in the event of / when paperless prosecutions are introduced on a more widespread basis in the Crown Court.
- For example, one significant but not huge Crown Court brief is likely to fill Chambers’ CJSM central account. Chambers might well be dealing with 10 – 20 such cases per week. The issue of CJSM capacity was an issue specifically raised by a member of our administrative staff who attended the paperless prosecutions event earlier in the year (the one at which Max Hill QC spoke). Ben Widddicombe (CPS/CJSM) specifically said there would not be a difficulty. We constructively, politely, but firmly suggest that recent experience suggests otherwise.
IN SHORT, WE ARE NOT AGAINST PAPERLESS PROSECUTIONS IN PRINCIPLE. WE DO, HOWEVER, HAVE GRAVE CONCERNS BASED ON RECENT LIMITED EXPERIENCE ABOUT ITS PRACTICAL OPERATION AS PRESENTLY WORKING. WE RAISE THESE CONCERNS IN CO-OPERATIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT.
If you have experience similar problems please tell us [here]
4. The CBA Kalisher Lecture
A number of us attended the Kalisher lecture on Tuesday where the address was given by Martin Shaw, yes he of Judge John Deed fame. He gave an impassioned plea in the defence of the Bar [read here]. Sometimes it takes people from outside the profession to shout on our behalf before anyone takes notice. Joanna Lumley provides a very good example of how common sense only prevailed because she gave a voice to the just cause of the Gurkhas. We are grateful to him. It was heartening to see that the awards given out by the Kalisher trust were won by so many women and from very diverse backgrounds. The Kalisher trust is doing a wonderful job at supporting young talent who would not otherwise have an opportunity of studying for the Bar. We encourage you to support it [here] for a donation form. We also discovered on Tuesday that the Comercial Bar Association ( ComBar ) had very generously funded two of the Kalisher scholars. On speaking to members of ComBar they explained how much they valued the Criminal Bar and that it was the Criminal Bar’s reputation world wide that had encouraged so many from abroad to seek out British commercial advocacy. Something the the Government might wish to bare in mind when they are so busy destroying us.
- The Bar Nursery
The Bar Council has gone to considerable lengths to find a nursery in Smithfield. It is slightly out of their wish list area but still very accessible for London based practitioners. It is an important initiative and if successful may lay the ground for further such initiatives around the country. They seek your views and have issued a survey. Last today today so please express them [here]
- CBA Elections
We are still looking for 2 silk on the executive. To date no one has been prepared to put their hat in the ring. This is a desperately important year for the Criminal Bar. We need all the fighters we can, get please consider joining us.
- CBA Subscriptions
You will all be aware that getting our subscriptions in is an uphill task. We love you but you are not the easiest of groups to organise. Many chambers now pay the practising certificate fee en block recouping the fee from its members. We would like to do the same for the CBA subscriptions. We imagine it would make your life easier and certainly ours. If you are prepared to support this idea or not express you views on the forum [here].
CBA Autumn Conference:
Saturday 3rd November 2012
IET Conference Centre, Savoy Place, London
Old Bailey Lecture:
The Ann Goddard Memorial Lecture
Work of the Sentencing Council
Tuesday 6th November 2012
The Old Bailey
The award to the winners of the CBA’s new Bursary Scheme
will be presented after the lecture by Sir Anthony Hooper
To secure your place please email Aaron
Old Bailey Lecture:
Research on Juries
Tuesday 4th December 2012
The Old Bailey
To secure your place please email Aaron
The Annual Bar Conference 2012 – Further message from the Vice Chair, Bar Conference 2012:
Every year, for the last 27 years, the Bar joins together for the prestigious Bar Conference in London, debating and shaping the Bar’s future.
Here are a few highlights of this year’s conference on 10 November 2012:
- Pick up top tips from media and PR experts on how to effectively market yourself;
- Hone your skills questioning vulnerable witnesses with the Advocacy Training Council;
- Join in the debate with Lord Justice Hooper, Clive Stafford-Smith (Founder of Reprieve) and Roger Smith (Director of Justice) at the CBA session: ‘Cutting legal aid: Damaging democracy and killing open justice.’
For the full programme and to book (a discount is available if three or more delegates book together) click here
And don’t forget, the Conference will also provide you with up to 6.5 CPD hours.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Vice-Chair, Bar Conference 2012
Bar Council Elections:
The CBA Supports the following candidates in the forthcoming BAR COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2013
AMANDA PINTO QC (5 Paper Buildings)
Over 7 Years’ Call
ELEANOR MAWREY (9 Gough Square)
NICHOLAS WORSLEY (Zenith Chambers)
Less than 7 Years’ Call
HANNAH KINCH (23 Essex St)
It is important that the Criminal Bar is well represented on the Bar Council – your vote counts
Please return your ballot paper to the Bar Council by 19th October 2012
Nominations for Election to the CBA Committee
Nominations are invited for election to the CBA Committee for 2013. There are seven places available one of which is for a junior barrister of less than seven years call. The positions are for a term of three years commencing 1st January 2013. Please send your nominations to:
18 Red Lion Court
DX 478 London/Chancery Lane
Nominations must be received by 5.00 p.m. on Friday 26 October 2012.
In the event of there being more candidates nominated than positions available a ballot of the membership will be held.
Nominations for Election of Treasurer to the CBA Committee
Nominations are invited for candidates to stand for the position of Treasurer of the CBA. These should be sent to the Secretary:
18 Red Lion Court
DX 478 London/Chancery Lane
Nominations must be received by 5.00 p.m. on Friday 26 October 2012.
In the event of there being more than one candidate a postal ballot of the membership will be held. The position of Treasurer is one of two year’s duration.
We appear to be moving slowly but inexorably towards digital working in the criminal justice system. There is a little-known but busy group called the CJS Efficiency Programme which includes representatives from the MoJ, the CPS, HMCTS, the judiciary, NOMS and the defence community. The CJS Efficiency Programme is trying to ensure there is joined-up thinking between all parties likely to be affected by the CPS’ move towards the digital service of material and the MoJ’s ambition to make better use of digital technology at all stages of the criminal justice system, from the collection of evidence by the agencies of law enforcement to the presentation of evidence at court.
They are acutely aware that members of the Bar are at the sharp end of these changes as the ultimate users of the material; we are the ones who are ultimately responsible for presenting the material in a way that is comprehensible by the court, whether that involves a witness, the judge or the jury.
Accordingly they are very anxious to get feedback from the Bar about how the changes are affecting us and what problems we may experience or envisage; the aim is to fine-tune the system so that these problems are resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible and the transition is therefore as effective as possible.
Please read the attached document which provides various links to places where you can get more information and advice. Perhaps most importantly there is an email address there for you to transmit your experiences directly to the CJS Efficiency Programme. I know from my own experience working with them that they take all our contributions seriously and pursue any issues we may experience.
You should also note that Legal Guidance on Digital Working across the Criminal Justice System has, today, been published on the Justice website.
The guidance sets out clearly the basis for digital working according to statute and the Criminal Procedure Rules. This includes the position regarding ‘wet signatures’ and ‘original documents’ in criminal proceedings. It was created by the CPS in consultation with agencies and partners involved in the CJS Efficiency Programme; this includes the judiciary and defence representative bodies.
It is being communicated with the following important messages:
- the guidance does not initiate any new digital business processes or signal any further immediate moves to digital working;
- it does not mean that we are ‘switching off’ paper; situations where paper-based processes remain are clearly described in the guidance;
Perhaps the most important page from our point of view is the Defence Practitioners’ page on the Justice website. The previous ‘frequently asked questions’ have been updated and reworked into guidelines for practitioners.”
Further details can be found HERE
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:
Criminal Law Week – updates (issue 38)
Key updates from this week’s issue of Criminal Law Week:
CBA NEWS FEED
Key updates from this week’s issue of Criminal Law Week:
Commencement order – brings into force in numerous areas amendments by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to provisions in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 relating to allocation and sending for trial: S.I. 2012 No. 2574 (CLW/12/38/14).
Breach of serious crime prevention order – Court of Appeal gives sentencing guidance: R. v. Koli (CLW/12/38/6).
Robbery (“ram raiding”) – appropriate sentencing brackets: R. v. Lawlor and Smith, C.A. (CLW/12/38/8).
Self defence – directions to be given to jury under section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: R. v. Yaman, C.A. (CLW/12/38/5).
CBA Bookclub Page:
The CBA book club page has just been updated, allowing CBA members to enjoy a 15% discount on the forthcoming editions of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice 2012 and the Blackstone’s Magistrates’ Court Handbook 2013, as well as many other Criminal Law books.
Your exclusive bookclub page can be found HERE
Youth Court Guide, Fifth Edition:
Updated to all changes to the youth justice system including:
- The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012
- The Criminal Procedure Rules 2012
15% discount when you quote TOYCG15
List price: £70
CBA price: £59.50
Further information can be found HERE
UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Annual International Rule of Law lecture
18 December 18:00 in Inner Temple Hall
The International Committee is delighted to announce Mark Mulholland QC, Chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland as the keynote speaker at its Sixth Annual International Rule of Law Conference. The lecture will take place at 18:00 on 18 December. This free annual lecture aims to stimulate debate and inspire barristers to become involved in rule of law related projects. Barristers, judges and law students are welcome to attend. The title of the lecture will be announced closer to the time. If you are interested in attending please email [email protected].
Brazil Trade Mission, 22-25 October
The Bar Council is planning to increase its engagement with Brazil which is a rapidly growing market for UK legal services. We are planning a stand-alone Business Development mission in 2013/14. In the meantime an opportunity has arisen as both the Lord Mayor and the Law Society, supported by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will be travelling at the same time to São Paulo to promote UK-Brazil legal links and business. The Bar Council is supporting an Unlocking Disputes conference on 24 October in Sao Paulo. For further information please see here.
There will be optional activities in Rio de Janeiro for those wishing to travel on following the São Paulo programme.
As the Bar Council will have a presence at some of the events it would be helpful for us to know if you are registering for this mission; please email [email protected].
Russian Law Week 2012, London
5 – 7 November 2012
The second Russian Law Week 2012 will take place in London from 5 to 7 November 2012. This event, of which the Bar Council is a co-organiser, will bring leading Russian and English practitioners together to discuss the latest developments in Russian Law. This is an excellent opportunity for any barrister wishing to develop their practice in relation to Russia.
You can register and view the draft programme here.
Increasing Access to Justice through E.U. Class Actions: A Conference for Litigators and Policy Makers
12 – 13 November 2012 at the European Parliament Building in Brussels, Belgium
This is a two day conference in Brussels, Belgium and is jointly presented by AIJA, Brussels Bar Association, Netherlands Bar Association, New York State Bar Association International Section, NUIM Law, Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (PEOPIL), Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA); UIA; Universidad de Santiago de Compostela; and Universite Catholique de Lyon. Topics at the conference will include:
- Class Actions, especially as they relate to Enforcement of Basic Human Rights
- Opt-In vs. Opt-Out Mechanisms in Class Actions
- Collective Redress as it applies to the EU and US
- Access to Justice as a Human Right
The conference will also feature several networking breaks as well as a social reception to be held Monday evening at the Renaissance Hotel.
For a full agenda, please click here
For further information regarding registration, hotel or sponsorship opportunities for this conference, please contact Curry Wilson at [email protected]
OTHER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT NEWS AND OPPORTUNITIES
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.
Be part of a study to examine child witness credibility:
If you agree to participate, you will be asked to read a transcript of an interview with a child witness. We will ask you to rate the credibility of the witness and the interview using a number of different criteria. All materials (including information about confidentiality and consent) will be sent to you by email. Once the study is complete, you will be debriefed. On request, we would be happy to send you a summary of the results.
I am an MSc Student studying Investigative Forensic Psychology at London South Bank University, supervised by Dr Anne Ridley.
To participate in this research, please contact Miss Vedrana Ilic on [email protected].”
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies:
School of Advanced Study, University of London,
Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR
Friday 16 November, 13:45 – 17:20
If you wish to attend please reply to: [email protected]
ADMISSION FREE – ALL WELCOME
Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London WC1B 5DR
For further information, please contact: [email protected]
UCL Laws Events October 2012
A detailed list of UCL events and how to book is available HERE
Vergeltungswaffen – Vengeance Weapons – V1, V2 Bombs
A photographic exhibition of my new work about the London sites and neighbourhoods where V-1 and V-2 bombs fell during the Second World War opens at the APT Gallery in Deptford on Thursday 25 October.
There will be a drinks reception between 6 and 9pm that I’d love you to come along to.
The address is: 6, Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 4SA
Open from 12 to 6pm, Friday to Sunday, the exhibition runs from 25 October until 11 November. Also, on Saturday 27 October, the architect Megan Williams will lead a walk around the bomb sites close to the gallery. We will meet at the gallery at 2pm and finish with tea at 4pm.
If you would like further information then please email: [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.
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