Surveillance laws "rushed": Speak in Safety

12 April 2016




Speaking to a packed committee room last night in Westminster, Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, told MPs and Peers they have a "rare and important opportunity" to protect one of our most fundamental constitutional rights; the right to consult a lawyer in confidence.

Chair of the event, Joanna Cherry QC MP, said the timetable for the Bill was "a disgrace".

Her view was reinforced by the Chairman of the Bar who warned that this is not the first time surveillance laws, with constitutionally significant details at their heart, have been "rushed" through Parliament.

This afternoon, the Investigatory Powers Bill Committee debates amendments tabled by the Labour Party and the SNP that will protect the client's right to legal privilege.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:"One of the essential rights in a democracy is that of a citizen to consult with a lawyer."

"Clients who cannot be sure that conversations with their legal representative are held in confidence often fail to communicate information which is vital to their case . . . This can compromise a defendant's right to a fair hearing."

"Where privileged material is passed, deliberately or otherwise, to Government lawyers who are defending a claim against the state or prosecuting an individual, the integrity of a trial is lost and the right of an individual to fair process is wholly undermined."

"Legal Professional Privilege" (LPP) is not the right of lawyers; privilege is the right of the client. Failure to protect that privilege amounts to a significant derogation of a fundamental constitutional right which is part of the foundation of the rule of law."

"Detailed and focused scrutiny of the Bill is now required. The Bar Council, the Law Society and NUJ are working together to protect some of the most fundamental constitutional rights enjoyed by the citizens of this country."

The Chairman's full speech is available here. The event was held jointly with the NUJ, the Bar Council and The Law Society.

The Bar Council's written submission to the Investigatory Powers Bill Committee, including draft amendments, is available here.


Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board