Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics (LAPE)

Spotlight On

In our second Spotlight, each member of the Bar Council's Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics (LAPE) team shares their top three picks of work from the last year, and looks ahead to the next.

Ellie Cumbo, Head of Policy: Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics, shares hers: 

  • Ethical Enquiries Service: In 2017, we received over 6,000 calls and 500 emails from members of the Bar seeking confidential help with ethical dilemmas. As well as common queries, such as what to do  when two cases clash, we also receive calls about emerging issues such as when a barrister undertaking a  secondment is considered to be acting in an employed capacity. With oversight from our Ethics Committee, we launched the new Ethics and Practice Hub at last autumn's Annual Bar Conference. We also published new guidance, including on what do when  a defendant in a criminal case absconds

  • Court reform:   The Bar Council takes its representative role seriously, and last year worked hard to scrutinise and respond to HMCTS' court reform programme. This includes proposals which may have serious consequences for justice and the Bar itself, from online processes and virtual hearings, to Flexible Operating Hours and a reduced physical court estate, to greater powers for staff authorised to exercise judicial functions. We are grateful to the practitioners who gave up their time to ensure that barristers' views, and their clients' rights and needs, are represented in this work. Find our various public responses to these on our  external consultations page

  • Advocacy and the Vulnerable: Following the  2014 government paperpromising to improve victims' experiences of going to court, a working group of experts developed a new approach to the questioning of vulnerable witnesses. The Circuits and Inns of Court have now trained over 1,000 barristers this way. The Bar Council is coordinating this roll-out, and keeping the MOJ informed, aiming to complete all training by the end of 2018. Again, we are hugely indebted to all those practitioners who volunteer as Facilitators; particular congratulations are due to the Western Circuit, which completed its training a year early. Criminal practitioners who have not yet been trained: contact your Circuits or see the Inn training pages:  Middle Temple Inner Temple Gray's Innand  Lincoln's Inn

Melanie Mylvaganam, Policy Analyst: Legal Affairs, Practice & Ethics, lists her 'big three' as:

  • Anti-money laundering guidance: The  Bar Council's guidance is now updated with practical case studies to assist barristers in navigating their AML/CTF obligations. We have also contributed to the guidance for the whole legal sector, due to be approved by HM Treasury next week - after which we will publish our own guidance, updated for compliance with the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations. 

  • General Data Protection Regulation: The  GDPR Guide for Barristers and Chambers is now published, and our existing IT documents are being updated to comply with the GDPR (which comes into force on 25 May 2018). We have been working with Riliance to deliver further templates, policies and procedures in the GDPR Toolkit, accessible to the profession for free. As part of this work, we have also been communicating with Parliament and Government about the development of the Data Protection Bill. 

  • The Brexit Papers: A coordinated effort from the Brexit Working Group, SBAs and other senior members of the profession, these papers harness the expertise of members of the Bar to summarise the legal implications of Brexit on particular topics, and make recommendations to Government. In 2018 the Working Group will expand on these through webinars on key topics of interest. See more on our Brexit work here.  

Onyeka Onyekwelu, Policy Analyst: Legal Affairs, Practice and Ethics, gives hers: 

  • Bar of the Future: Working closely with members of the Young Barristers' Committee (YBC) to showcase the Young Bar as an untapped resource, and attempt to cast a light on the future of the profession. In this challenging legal landscape of increased digitisation and the uncertainty of the proposed reform programme, it is my role to work with key stakeholders to develop opportunities, and highlight the need for young barristers in the delivery of justice. 

  • International opportunities for Young Barristers: In 2017, the Bar Council's International Committee handed responsibility for facilitating the  International Grant Programme to the YBC. Out of 28 applications, 17 young Barristers were granted opportunities to take part in the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights (Dublin), shadow in an international licensing firm (New York), and conduct an Amity visit with a session on human rights and comparative law in courts (Washington DC). Applications are now open for the first round of the 2018 Programme. In addition, this year, the YBC will host our Dutch counterparts on the  Anglo Dutch Exchange, and lawyers from all over the world for International Weekend. 

  • ADR Research: I am responsible for ensuring the ADR Panel develops opportunities that satisfy Aim 2 of the Bar Council's Strategic aims. This year, I will research clients' experiences of ADR, to help enhance practitioners' understanding of their clients' needs, and assist the Bar Council's efforts to promote alternative practices at the Bar. This research will focus on the consumer experience of non-litigious processes in England and Wales, exploring their expectations from ADR and the impact their experience has on their attitudes to justice and the legal system.

Much of this important work by the Bar Council's Policy Team would not be possible without funding from the  Bar Representation Fee (BRF), a £8.34 per month subscription fee.