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.

Friday 18 June 2021

Rape review

The Guardian (print & online) – The Guardian reports on the Bar Council’s reaction to the government’s rape review which has acknowledged the depth of systematic failures in the criminal justice system.

The Guardian quotes Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar. He said: “The investigation and prosecution of allegations of rape has been crying out for reform … but without better funding for every part of the criminal justice system which deals with these cases, the government’s ambitious action plan will fail.

“Barristers both prosecute and defend these cases, so we see all sides of the challenge in providing access to justice through a critically under-resourced criminal justice system. The Bar Council will continue to engage with government on this issue. In return, the government needs to deliver the resources to make good on its promises.”

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Friday 11 June 2021

CLAR youth justice

New Law Journal, Children & Young People Now – The media continues to report on the Bar Council’s youth justice proposals contained within its CLAR consultation response.

Anyone aged under 18 at the time of an alleged offence should automatically be considered a vulnerable person in criminal proceedings, says the Bar Council. The council warned ministers that while “the number of first-time entrants to the youth justice system falls, the cases and alleged crimes that do remain within the courts are proportionately far more serious”. Bar chiefs want the government to make legal representation for youths at the police station mandatory “or at least require an opt-out”.

Remote juries

Law Society Gazette – The Gazette reports that a joint statement from the Bar Council and the Law Society to MPs opposes the introduction of remote juries under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The statement said: “These concerns are wide-ranging and include: the risk of alienating juries and/or witnesses; ensuring security of proceedings (both in terms of the privacy of the process and individuals, and data privacy); additional expense to the taxpayer; the requirement of new technology and IT systems; and the associated issues arising out of these aspects.

The representative bodies warned that the impact of the proposal on access to justice is unclear and unproven. “How jurors interpret body language and facial expressions can be key in a trial and it is simply not known what impact hearing a trial remotely would have in this area.”

Pride

New Law JournalToday’s Conveyancer – Further coverage of the news that the pandemic has forced Legal Pride celebrations online.

However, the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives — which represent most lawyers in England and Wales — still have a range of remote events planned for Pride month.

Employment tribunals backlog

HR Magazine – Elaine Banton of 7BR and Co-Chair of the Bar Council’s Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility Committee, writes in HR Magazine on the backlog in the employment tribunals, looking at what can be done to reduce it.

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Friday 4 June 2021

Judicial review

The Guardian – Further coverage of the Bar Council’s response to the judicial review consultation is contained within a Guardian report on a cross-party condemning the proposals.

MPs say the changes are based on a “false claim” by the government that a panel led by Lord Faulks QC had found that courts in judicial review cases had become more prone “to edge away from a strictly supervisory jurisdiction”. The Bar Council, Law Society, Constitutional and Administrative Law Association, Liberty, Justice and the Public Law Project have all pointed out this disconnect with Faulks’s review, the letter says.

CLAR youth justice

The Times (online and print, p.51), Law Society Gazette – The media reports on the Bar Council’s youth justice proposals contained within its CLAR consultation.

Anyone aged under 18 at the time of an alleged offence should automatically be considered a vulnerable person in criminal proceedings, says the Bar Council. The council warned ministers that while “the number of first-time entrants to the youth justice system falls, the cases and alleged crimes that do remain within the courts are proportionately far more serious”. Bar chiefs want the government to make legal representation for youths at the police station mandatory “or at least require an opt-out”.

The Law Society Gazette adds that ‘derisory fees’ for youth court work will leave vulnerable children without proper legal representation.

Pride

The Times – The Times reports on how the pandemic has forced Legal Pride celebrations online.

However, the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives — which represent most lawyers in England and Wales — still have a range of remote events planned for Pride month, which started on Tuesday.

Judicial review

Law Society Gazette – The Law Society Gazette reports that the Legal Services Board has waded into a row about chambers that do not respond to unsuccessful pupillage applicants, warning that such behaviour could undermine diversity and inclusion.

According to figures published by the Bar Council the number of graduates competing for pupillages rose by over 1,000 this year following last year’s disrupted recruitment season. Some 3,301 candidates applied for just 246 positions via the pupillage gateway in 2021, compared with 2,142 applicants competing for 237 pupillages last year. The figures do not include applications submitted outside the pupillage gateway.

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Date posted: 19 June 2021