This letter from The Treasurer, The Rt Hon. Sir Stephen Irwin, was sent to Members on 21 April 2020.
I understand that many of members of the Inn will themselves be badly affected financially by the Covid-19 crisis and the consequent disruption of earnings. Some of our own will need financial support. We have already been told by the Barristers’ Benevolent Association (BBA) of real hardship amongst some practitioners. We are not just talking about helping barristers survive in practice or pay their mortgage: we are told that some need help to put food on the table. We must be apprehensive that more is on the way, given how badly the court system is being impeded. For a time, the earnings of many self-employed barristers, particularly those practising in publicly funded fields, will be radically diminished, or extinguished.
By contrast, many of us have income in the form of salary or pensions, and some have incomes which are very high and may be less affected by the hiatus in court hearings. I hope that all of us who are able to do so, will respond generously to the Emergency Appeal established by the Inns and the BBA. I would ask you to consider doing so, not just once, but over the period of shut down of the Courts, when continued need will arise.
The Inns are together taking this approach because the BBA is already established with staff experienced in managing applications for assistance, the BBA can exercise consistency regardless of which Inn the barrister belong to, and because there is a significant tax advantage in donations made to the BBA.
The Inns have themselves already contributed significantly to the Appeal and will provide further support as the crisis develops. I hope you will agree that this is a time when the Bar and the judiciary need to come together to help those in difficulty. This is a time to show our mettle.
I have attached the covering letter and the appeal details which are also available on the BBA Website.
Thank you very much.