Gray's Inn

News update from The Bar Council

The Bar Council provides a regular News Update on general legal issues that will be of interest to our members.

The most recent News Updates can be viewed below. If you would would like to sign up to receive this News Update by email, please contact The Bar Council.

 

14 August 2017

Flexible Courts Pilot

New Law Journal - Further coverage appears of the Bar Council’s warnings over plans by HMCTS to pilot flexible court operating hours.

A letter from Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar, in response to Fulford LJ on the issue of the pilot is quoted in the media.

NLJ reports that in a tersely-worded response this week, however, Andrew Langdon QC, notes that the misunderstandings and ill-informed comments were “understandable, given that there was no consultation paper setting out the proposals in any detail, and they have been developed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion”.

He points out that barristers are in a better position to understand the impact of shifts in court than anyone employed by HMCTS and asks that their concerns be addressed. Despite repeated requests to HMCTS, he says he has not been provided with the evaluation criteria and therefore is not able to be reassured that it will adequately measure the consequences barristers fear. Moreover, he says there is doubt that the criteria will be available before the first pilot commences in Newcastle.

Langdon warns that the pilot may be distorted by “sympathetic listing”, excluding cases where parties object. He reiterates concerns that barristers with caring responsibilities, who are mainly women, will be adversely affected.

He concludes: “I hope you did not mean implicitly or otherwise to criticise the Bar Council, or for that matter the CBA [Criminal Bar Association], in raising these concerns, and doing so vocally and vehemently.

“I wonder if, on reflection, you would be prepared, publicly, to make it clear that you did not mean to suggest that the Bar Leaders who have been grappling with this had been ill-informed or misunderstood?”

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

11 August 2017

Flexible Courts Pilot

Law Society Gazette, Legal Futures, Local Government Lawyer – Further coverage appears of the Bar Council’s warnings over plans by HMCTS to pilot flexible court operating hours.

A letter from Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar, in response to Fulford LJ on the issue of the pilot is quoted in the media.

The Gazette and Legal Futures also report on opposition to the pilot in the judiciary, including the Association of Fee-Paid Judges (AFPJ), as well as from the Law Society.  

Local Government Lawyer reports that the Chair of the Bar has demanded clarification of the approach to be taken to evaluating the court flexible operating hours pilots and warned that unless barristers’ concerns are addressed, then they will be “very unhappy about engaging with the experiment.”

Court reporting

Law Society Gazette – The Gazette reports that Westminster Magistrates’ Court has closed its press room, in a move that will further stoke fears about the growing lack of oversight and transparency of local courts.

The Gazette reports that in a recent column Andrew Langdon QC, Chair of the Bar, said that a decline in court reporters meant that justice is operating “essentially unseen and unheard by the public.”

He wrote: “A large majority of cases, although conducted in public hearings up and down the land, and although producing outcomes that often dramatically affect the lives of the citizens concerned, operate essentially unseen and unheard by the public.”

Zimbabwe

IBA – The IBA website publishes details of a joint letter, co-signed by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the Bar Council of England and Wales, and other lawyers' organisations, which was sent to President Mugabe of Zimbabwe on the 3rd of August, calling on him to veto a bill proposing changes to judicial appointments which will undermine the independence of the judiciary and threaten the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

The Bill will amend the Constitution to give the President the sole discretion to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court. The Bill has been passed by the Lower House of Parliament, and if approved by the Senate, it will be up to President Mugabe to veto or sign the Bill into law.

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

Education
Members
Date posted: 31 July 2017