10 things the Bar Council did in June 2017

18 July 2017

What is it the Bar Council does? Here's a glimpse of just some of the work we have done in June 2017.

1. The Bar Council published the third edition of The Brexit Papers, a plain-English analysis of the big legal issues around Brexit. This edition, building on previous editions produced by the Bar Council's Brexit Working Group, contains new chapters covering a range of areas, including agriculture, acquired rights, environmental law, public procurement, dispute resolution, CJEU jurisprudence and fisheries.


2. The Bar Council invited the adoption of a new Court Sitting Hours Protocol in response to an increasing tendency for cases to be listed early or late in the court day without reference to the majority of court users, particularly in the criminal and family courts. This has widespread implications for the professional practices of barristers, as well as their ability to manage appropriately their professional duties, own wellbeing, and any caring and personal commitments that they may have.


3. Criminal law barrister Richard Atkins QC was named as next year's Vice-Chair of the Bar, the body that represents all 16,000 barristers in England & Wales. 


4. The work of the Bar Council's Ethical Enquiries Service was laid bare by a new, short, behind-the-scenes film at the work of the service, which gives assistance to barristers to help them to identify, interpret and comply with their professional obligations under the BSB Handbook and receives some 6,000 enquiries from barristers a year.


5. Andrew Langdon QC warned that Government plans to roll out online pleas, outlined in the Queen's Speech, risked down-playing potentially serious consequences for defendants. He said: "Inviting defendants to use an online procedure to indicate a plea risks trivialising potentially serious consequences for those accused of committing offences."


6. The Bar Council formally welcomed the appointment of a new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, David Lidington MP. At the Lord Chancellor's swearing in ceremony, Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar, delivered a speech, stressing the importance of an independent judiciary.


7. The winners of the first Bar Council Employed Barristers' Aw ards were announced following a packed out awards dinner at the Tower of London. Tickets for the awards were sold out as barristers from a range of sectors, including government, commerce and the armed forces turned out to find out the winners of the awards. More than 50 nominations were submitted for the six categories. 


8.  New research, commissioned by the Bar Council and undertaken by the Universities of Cardiff and Bristol showed that the bulk of work undertaken by paid McKenzie Friends is delivered outside court, with very few seeking actively to represent their litigant in person clients in the court room. Chair of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, and Chair of the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA), Philip Marshall QC, met with the President of the Family Division (Sir James Munby) to discuss the findings of the report. The Bar Council said that the risks of McKenzie Friends being able to seek payment for representing their clients in court, despite being unqualified and offering no disciplinary process and no requirement to have insurance, are considerable so vulnerable clients have little protection and that the practice should be "nipped in the bud."


9. Chair of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, led a Bar Council trade mission with members of the Bar to Brazil. He also participated in the High Commissioners' Roundtable, the Four Bar Leaders' meeting in Belfast and gave the keynote speech at the first Wellness at the Bar Conference held at Inner Temple.


10. The Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer, KCB QC MP and Professor Richard Susskind OBE were the latest speakers confirmed for this year's Annual Bar & Young Bar Conference.