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 June 

Prosecution and defence fees

The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Times and local media – The media reports that criminal barristers who threatened to stage a walkout from courts across England and Wales in protest at low fees have been offered a government pay deal.
 
The media reports that the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has said the government’s promised increase amounted to tens of millions of pounds. The CBA received overwhelming support from its 3,000-strong membership for a day of action on 1 July that would have in effect closed down the criminal courts for a day.
 
But a joint statement issued by the Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Justice, attorney general, Criminal Bar Association and the Bar Council on Wednesday announced that an agreement had been reached. The deal will be put to CBA members, asking whether they want to call off the walkout.
 
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Photograph of Bar council young citizen tweet

12 June 

Bar training 

Law in Action - BBC Radio Four (listen from 15 minutes in) – Law in Action looks at how plans by COIC/ICCA to launch a BPTC that will be split into two courses to help students seeking a career at the Bar avoid escalating training costs might help the profession become more diverse. 
 
Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar, is interviewed by Law in Action. He says that any initiative which increases competition whilst keeping costs low for those pursuing a career at the Bar is a good thing. He added that the cost of training can be very high with no guarantee of a pass or a pupillage at the end of it. 
 
Under the new proposed course, students would take part one of the course for a lower cost. In order to move on to the second part of the course they’d need to pass part one. 
 
Two of the Bar Council’s ‘I am the Bar’ social mobility advocates, Mukhtiar Singh and Danielle Manson, also comment on the programme, telling their own stories of how they overcome obstacles to reach the Bar despite the high costs of training. 

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Bar Council in South Tyneside in LAA

New style of Counsel magazine

10 June 

Criminal Bar 

Guardian online, FT online – The media reports that criminal barristers in England and Wales have voted overwhelmingly to stage a national walkout on 1 July in protest at low fees in action that is likely to close down the criminal justice system for the day.
 
The announcement of ballot results by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) marks a sharp escalation in the long-running dispute over payment for legal work, reports the media. Some barristers are paid as little as £46.50 for a day in court, the association says.

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Amanda Pinto QC talking to students about getting to the Bar

the CBA Ballot Results

 

31 May 

Criminal Bar

PoliticsHome - Responding to the announcement by the Criminal Bar Association to ballot its members on whether to take action over prosecution and defence fees, the Bar Council and the Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC) said: 
 
“The lack of investment in the criminal justice system over many years has been highlighted by the Bar Council and YBC at every available opportunity. The Bar Council and YBC share the widespread concerns of those practising at the criminal Bar. 
 
“Prosecution fees have been cut over the last 18 years and defence fees are no longer fit for purpose. These issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
 
“We encourage the criminal Bar to respond to the CBA's ballot. In addition, we welcome and endorse the proposals to remain engaged with the reviews being undertaken by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in relation to prosecution and defence fees for the Bar. We are committed to supporting the criminal Bar in these reviews and beyond.” 

CPS 

The BarristerRichard Atkins, Chair of the Bar, writes for the Barrister:
 
“Unlike some, I am not upset by the increases for the CPS employees. They too have suffered over many years because of cuts to the CPS budget and reductions in CPS staffing levels […] I am actually faintly encouraged that the Treasury appears to have realised that our prosecution system is in need of increased funding, although time will tell whether my optimism is mis-placed. What does concern me however is that this is not simply an issue that affects CPS employees but is one which applies across the entire prosecution system.
 
“A major concern is that whatever proposals are made as a result of this review, it will ultimately be for the Treasury to decide whether it is prepared properly to fund the justice system. Whichever Government we have in power or whatever the make-up and personalities of that Government are anybody’s guess. […] Those who prosecute (and defend) provide a vital public service and this message must be carried loudly and clearly to the Treasury. […] If investment is not made and the cuts reversed, our criminal justice system, once the envy of the world, will wither and die. Action must be taken by those holding the purse strings before it is too late.” 

Wales smacking ban 

New Law Journal (print) - The Bar Council's Law Reform Committee has provided advice on a proposed smacking ban in Wales. The National Assembly is currently consulting on the proposed Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill. The Bill aims to abolish the common law defence of reasonable punishment so it is no longer available in Wales to parents or those acting in loco parentis as a defence to assault or battery against a child. The Bar's Committee agreed the Bill achieved its intended objective but suggested a less complicated way to do so via a small amendment to the Children Act 2004. 

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Date posted: 12 June 2019