10 of the things we did in March 2017

5 April 2017

  1. The Bar Council published The Brexit Papers - Second Edition, a comprehensive and easy-to-read guide on legal issues raised by Brexit. Among the issues covered are employment rights of UK workers, maintaining London as the global centre for financial services and the need for a 'Plan B' if no deal is reached with the EU in two years time. 

  2. In a briefing to MPs considering the Prisons and Courts Bill, the Bar Council has warned that the quality and the reputation of our system of justice must not suffer as plans for online and virtual hearings are taken forward. Chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC said: "Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to ensure that the quality of justice and the high regard in which our system is held are not undermined." 

  3. Robin Allen QC, Chairman of the Bar Council Equality and Diversity and Social Mobility Committee, gave evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee on equality at the bench and recruitment. He explained proposals which the Bar has developed for Pre-Judicial Application Education to improve judicial diversity.  

  4. The Bar Council, with the Law Society, organised an event for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at Westminster which focused on the implications of Brexit for consumers and small businesses. Speakers included Shadow Solicitor General, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP and Hugh Mercer QC. 

  5. The Bar Council's Commercial Development Manager, Danielle Wright addressed Legalex, billed as Europe's most influential legal events, about how the Bar Council seeks to help legal professionals and those who support them to develop strategies for meeting the challenges of an increasingly competitive and cost-conscious environment for the delivery of legal services. 

  6. To mark International Women's Day, the Bar Council produced a short video of some leading barristers sharing their experiences. Retaining talented women in the profession and encouraging them to apply for Silk and judicial appointment is a key priority for the Bar Council.  

  7. As the Government embarks on a post-legislative review of LASPO, Chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC reminded the Ministry of Justice that a succession of cuts in legal aid rates in the Crown court had resulted in cuts in advocates' remuneration of 37% in the six years before LASPO was implemented.  Four years on, with no index-linked increases at any stage, the cuts are now deeper than 40%. "No other sector of public funding has come close to suffering that sort of carnage" he said. 

  8. The Bar Council has warned HMCTS that plans to extend court room sittings would adversely affect barristers with caring responsibilities, especially women. Chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, said: "These arrangements will make it almost impossible for parents with childcare responsibilities to predict if they can make the school run or to know when they will be able to pick children up from the child-minders. The biggest impact will be on women."  

  9. The Bar Council organised a well-attended Developing your Mentoring Skills training session, to support those who are considering or currently mentoring in any scheme across the Bar.  

  10. The Bar Council, in partnership with the Citizenship Foundation, staged the 26th National Bar Mock Trial Competition in which over 230 schools, 300 barristers and 90 judges took part. The competition gives state-school students a unique opportunity to experience advocacy training from practising barristers and have their performance evaluated by real judges.