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.

Friday 24 March 2017


Politics Home reported on the Bar Council’s response to the Justice Select Committee Brexit report.

Politics Home quoted a spokesperson “The Justice Committee have reached some sensible conclusions in their report. Effective cross-border arrangements to ensure continued co-operation with the EU on criminal justice need to be maintained. Likewise in civil justice, choice of jurisdiction together with mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments (as well as equivalent arrangements in family law) are in the UK’s interest as well as in the EU’s interest post-Brexit. They are recommendations for which the Bar Council, the Family Law Bar Association, and the Criminal Bar Association have been arguing.’’

Read more here.

According to Legal futures, The Justice Select Committee has described the impact of Brexit on legal services as ‘’a cause for concern, but not hyperbole’’.

In its report on the implications of Brexit for the justice system, MPs warned that without the protection of existing practising rights in the EU, the ability of the legal services sector to facilitate economic activity “will diminish”.

The report referred to evidence from Andrew Langdon QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, that “without the free movement of lawyers nothing else of much importance will be salvaged’’.

Read more here.

New Law Journal ‘’Britain’s exit from the EU is not inevitable once Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Art 50 on 29 March’’, a senior barrister has said.

Hugh Mercer QC, of Essex Court Chambers, Chair of Bar Council’s Brexit Working Group was quoted saying: “Though Art 50 includes no express provision for revocation of the UK notice, it is clearly arguable for example on the grounds of the duties of sincere cooperation between member states (Art 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union) that, were the UK to feel on mature reflection that leaving the EU and/or the European Economic Area (EEA) is not in the national interest, the notice under Art 50 could be revoked.”

New Law Journal went on to report the Brexit Papers: Second edition as ‘’an easy-to-read legal guide to Brexit, with a plan to fill the gaps in the labour market and retain the status of the City post-Brexit while maintaining UK sovereignty and autonomy.’’

Read full article here.


Sky News, The Guardian - Lord Chief Justice attacks Liz Truss for failing to back article 50 judges.

According to The Guardian earlier this month, Liz Truss said “I think it is dangerous for a government minister to say, ‘this is an acceptable headline and this isn’t an acceptable headline,’ because I am a huge believer in the independence of the judiciary. I am also a very strong believer in the free press.” 

Read more here.

Rape reforms

Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Times, Legal Cheek all report on the Lord Chief Justice comments about the Justice Secretary rape reform plans.

Reforms to shield women alleging rape during trials by allowing them to pre-record their testimony were halted by England's most senior judge yesterday.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas said ‘’the announcement of the dramatic change to sex crime cases made by Justice Secretary Liz Truss at the weekend was 'wrong'’’.

Online courts

Raconteur reports on ‘’the rise of the online courtroom’’ and states that ‘’ England and Wales have so far lagged behind other jurisdictions when it comes to making use of online dispute resolution, dubbed by detractors as “eBay justice”.

In England and Wales, the Bar Council and the Law Society, the groups that represent barristers and solicitors respectively, support reforms to increase efficiency and make better use of resources, but they are circumspect about the manner and speed of change, which appears to be driven by the Justice Ministry’s court closure programme.

Read more here

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Prisons and Courts Bill

The Gazette, Legal Cheek, UK Authority, Politics Home - The Bar Council argued that virtual hearings in criminal cases should remain the exception rather than the norm.

“Criminal proceedings are generally better conducted when the participants are together in one place," it said. "It is essential that there is no diminution in the quality of open justice.”

The Bar strongly criticised the proposal for online automatic convictions.

“Inviting defendants to use an online procedure to indicate a plea, or to opt for a summary trial instead of a Crown Court jury trial, risks trivialising potentially serious consequences for those accused of committing offences,” Andrew Langdon QC, chairman of the bar, said.

The Brexit Papers

Legal Futures reports that the latest additions to the Bar Council’s ‘Brexit Papers’ has warned that leaving the EU without a deal would “bring loss of rights, serious economic damage, and confusion and uncertainty”.

The reference to The Brexit Papers: Second Edition was made as the Lords Justice Committee report Brexit: Justice for families, individuals and businesses? was published reflecting many of the Bar Council’s concerns over the impact that Brexit may have on, among other things, the UK’s legal services market.

The Peers’ report urged that alternatives to the existing framework of civil justice cooperation “must be in place before the UK’s withdrawal is completed”.

The EU justice sub-committee said that to walk away from the Brussels IIa Regulation and the Maintenance Regulation – which govern cross-border family law issues – without putting alternatives in place “would seriously undermine the family law rights of UK citizens and would, ultimately, be an act of self-harm”.


Lawyer-Monthly - Legal chiefs say the Government should give EU citizens unrestricted access to UK jobs in post-Brexit Britain and claim that British workers do not lose out to EU migrant labour.

But they agree that the UK Government, not the EU, will now call the shots.

The Daily Mail, The Times and others meanwhile, reported on plans to allow alleged rape victims to give evidence by video.

On Radio 4, Chairman of the CBA, Francis Fitzgibbon QC said: ‘If it is likely to become the default for sex abuse cases, I think it’s likely to detract from the reality of trials. It would make it harder for juries to determine where truth lies.’

Public Access

Legal Futures - The value of public access work carried out by barristers as a proportion of the profession’s income grew six-fold over just five years, according to new figures seen by Legal Futures.

The figures for 2009 to 2014, the most up-to-date available, show that only 2% of the Bar’s total income came from public access at the start of the period, but by 2014 this had reached 12%.

Andrew Granville Stafford, chair of the Public Access Bar Association, who obtained the figures from the Bar Council, said that half of all barristers were now qualified to provide public access.

Although many derived only a “small proportion” of their earnings from public access, he said a minority of 7% relied on it for three-quarters or more of their income.

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

20 March 2017

17 March 2017

15 March 2017

13 March 2017

10 March 2017

8 March 2017

6 March 2017

3 March 2017

Date posted: 17 March 2017