Rule of Law


The Bar Council is committed to upholding the rule of law in the UK and around the world. Many of our members are advocates in human rights and constitutional cases in this country and around the world. Barristers also devote their time to pro bono work, whether that be providing legal advice or representation for free to those in need, or by volunteering their skills in another capacity, such as providing advocacy training in other jurisdictions. For further information on the Bar's pro bono work, please click here.

Take the ENCJ and CCBE's survey on judicial independence in England and Wales - deadline 15 March 2019:


Statements and letters of concern  

The Bar Council speaks out whenever and wherever rule of law crises occur and will engage with other lawyers' associations to share best practice on regulatory or professional standards matters. 

Bar Council and other international legal bodies write to Chinese President Xi JinPing on the detention of Chinese lawyer Wang Quanzhang

Bar Council and other legal profession bodies write to the President of Guatemala on threats to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law

Bar Council urges authorities in Poland to put an end to the ongoing attacks on the independence of the judiciary, and reconsider certain measures in the Supreme Court Act

Bar Council and BHRC urge Prime Minister Theresa May to raise concerns around prosecution of legal professionals in Turkey with the Turkish President in their meeting (supplementary annex here)

Bar Council speaks out against the treatment of lawyers in Iran and the ongoing detention of prominent human rights advocates

Bar Council stands in solidarity with lawyers around the world on the Day of the Endangered Lawyer

Bar Council expresses grave concern over the shooting of Tanganyika Law Society President

Bar Council expresses grave concern over the future of the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe

Bar Council calls on the President of Poland to exercise his power of veto over new legislation that will undermine the independence of the Polish judiciary 
Bar Council expresses concern at the arbitrary arrest and trial of lawyer Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla in the Republic of Cameroon
BHRC and Bar Council urge Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss ongoing human rights violations in Turkey during her meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan 
BHRC and Bar Council raise concerns over abduction of Bangladeshi lawyer 
Bar Council condemns killing of lawyers in Pakistan
Bar Council responds to mass arrest of judges in Turkey
Bar Council demand the release of at least 15 Chinses human rights lawyers

The Bar Council has recently identified four countries where lawyers are currently at risk from human rights abuses simply for doing their jobs in the interests of justice and upholding the rule of law. Click here to find out more. 

Annual International Rule of Law Lecture

This lecture series aims to stimulate debate, to inspire lawyers to participate in rule of law related work and to promote greater awareness of the importance of the rule of law. We have been fortunate over the past decade to attract outstanding speakers from across the globe, each with their own perspective on the rule of law and each with their own thoughts on the challenges presented.

Previous lectures

The first ten lectures have been published by Wildy's and Sons Ltd. You can purchase a copy of the book from the  Wildy's and Sons Ltd website.  

2018 - Professor Andrzej Rzeplinski, former President of the Polish Constitutional Court

'The role of the judiciary in a rule of law crisis -an insight from Poland'

2017 - Dr Shirin Ebadi, former Iranian judge and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize 

'Speaking up for the Rule of Law - a Lawyer's Perspective in Modern Iran' 

2016 - Baroness Fran├žoise Tulkens, former Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights

"Fundamental Human Rights and State Security: Inseparable Allies"

2015 - The Honourable Geoffrey Ma, Chief Justice of Hong Kong

"Strength and fragility in tandem: The Rule of Law in Hong Kong"

2014 - Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice and Prime Minister of Jordan

"Rule of Law in times of turbulence- a Middle Eastern perspective"

2013 - Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada

"Is the open court principle sustainable in the 21st century? An examination of the open court principle as a component of the Rule of Law"

2012 - Mark Muholland QC, Chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland

"Global terrorism and the rule of law: a global problem from a Northern Irish perspective"

2011 - Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations

"Legal Issues Facing the United Nations"

2010 - The Most Reverend & Rt. Hon. Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

"Justice in a Secularising and Pluralising Society"

2009 -  Judge Anthony Gubbay, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe

"The progressive erosion of the Rule of Law in Independent Zimbabwe"

2008 - Judge Johann Kriegler, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South

"The rule of law in post-colonial Africa: a British legacy?"

2007 -  Judge Phillipe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court

"The International Criminal Court-establishing accountability for the most serious international Crimes""