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.

8 August 2018

Brexit

The GuardianYahoo News – The Guardian reports on the Bar Council’s recent consultation response to DEFRA’s on plans for a new environmental watchdog post Brexit.

The Guardian reports that the “Bar Council said the planned new UK watchdog lacks teeth, as it will not be able to take the government to court.”

Celina Colquhoun, of the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee, is quoted in The Guardian. She said: “[We are] concerned that the proposed powers for the new environmental watchdog do not go far enough. It would not have comparable powers to the EU commission in respect of complaints by individuals, and there is no proposed role or power for the body to take the government to court.”

QCs

Legal FuturesLaw Society Gazette – Legal Futures reports QCs should not lose their designation unless they are excluded from the profession and even then not automatically, the Bar Council has said. It also said it would not be favour a “‘trip wire’ trawl of social media activity” to alert Queen’s Counsel Appointments (QCA) to bad behaviour by potential QCs.

The Bar Council described the removal of QC designation as a “serious and drastic step” which “ought not to be undertaken lightly”.

The Bar Council was responding to a consultation on Integrity, Character and Conduct by the QCA, which said that the only QC to have their Letters of Patent revoked this century had been jailed for a criminal offence.

The Gazette reports that the Bar Council also said asking QC hopefuls about their personal background could help elicit information regarding alleged bullying, racist or sexist behaviour. However, it said more detailed guidance is needed from QC Appointments in order to explain the purpose of the question.

Court reform

New Law Journal - Family lawyers and barristers have hit out at the government following a scathing report on the £1.2bn courts modernisation project, reports NLJ.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week warned of a 'significant risk that HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will fail to

deliver the benefits it expects,' in its report, Transforming Courts and Tribunals.

New Law Journal quotes Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar. He said: “'We are not satisfied that sufficient attention is being paid to the implications that digitising legal processes, and the widespread use of video technology, may have for justice and fairness in every case.

“This must include ensuring that independent legal advice is received when it is needed most, especially before individuals make decisions that may have important implications, such as before indicating a likely plea when you are charged with a

criminal offence.”

BARCO

Law Society Gazette – Further coverage appears of the news that BARCO, the Bar Council’s third-party escrow service, has shut down.

The Bar Council said last week that it had reviewed Barco’s feasibility “as part of a wider commercial review across all areas of the Bar Council’s services and products”.

The Bar Council explained that BARCO has been largely subsidised by funds from training and events surplus and business partnerships, “as the income from fees and charges has not matched the costs and expenditure incurred in delivering the service”.

It added: “Given the suitability of other providers, it is felt that it is no longer the best use of funds to continue operating the escrow.”

Wellbeing

Occupational Health & Wellbeing – OHW magazine reports that Criminal barristers are experiencing a "mental health crisis", according to the Criminal Bar Association, with almost half of criminal law practitioners in England and Wales reporting an increase in their workload in the past two years.

The article cites a Bar Council survey which found that workload had increased for 40% of respondents in the past two years. Almost 60% claimed they were working more than 51 hours a week; around half of whom said they were working in excess of 60 hours. Only half of those questioned felt they had a good work/life balance.

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

6 August 2018

BARCO

Legal Futures - Barco, the Bar Council’s third-party escrow service, has shut down after “suitable” commercial providers entered the market.

Barco was launched in 2013 with 10 chambers piloting it and enabled barristers to handle client money – through direct access work or receiving fees in advance – without adopting the type of client account regulation faced by solicitors.

However, the Bar Council said last week that it had reviewed Barco’s feasibility “as part of a wider commercial review across all areas of the Bar Council’s services and products”.

It said: “As it now stands, in July 2018, there are a number of providers in the market. Two in particular, Shieldpay and Transpact, have been identified as suitable escrow providers for the self-employed Bar.

The Bar Council explained that Barco has been largely subsidised by funds from training and events surplus and business partnerships, “as the income from fees and charges has not matched the costs and expenditure incurred in delivering the service”.

It added: “Given the suitability of other providers, it is felt that it is no longer the best use of funds to continue operating the escrow.”

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

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Members
Date posted: 08 August 2018