The Bar Council and Citizenship Foundation joined forces on a schools initiative 'Are judges enemies of the people?' Sam Mercer, Head of Policy for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the Bar Council said: "We heard that a number of schools had struggled to find ways of talking to their students about the High Court ruling on Article 50 last year, when judges were branded in the press as 'enemies of the people'. How do you explain to a teenager that there is an argument for unelected judges in a democracy? Constitutional politics is not always easy to understand, but it is vital that our children properly understand how our government and judiciary work, and we are delighted to be working with the Citizenship Foundation on this project."
Hugh Mercer QC, Chair of the Bar Council's Brexit Working Group, gave evidence to the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, as part of the committee's inquiry into Brexit and the implications for civil justice cooperation.
The Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) and the Bar Council urged Prime Minister Theresa May to address ongoing human rights violations in Turkey when she met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in January. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the BHRC and Bar Council highlighted the systematic persecution of lawyers and judges in Turkey following the unsuccessful coup of 15 July 2016.
The Bar Council and Young Barristers' Committee welcomed proposals published by the Ministry of Justice to replace the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS). If implemented, the new AGFS will mean that advocates' fees are no longer based on outdated measures such as page count but reflect the seriousness and complexity of the case.
In response to proposals for the introduction of on-line courts, Chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC cautioned against an 'evangelical' drive towards virtual hearings that marginalise the core work of advocates in an interview for the Times.
The Bar Council has announced the categories for the Employed Bar Awards and invited nominations. These awards seek to recognise the important contribution of employed barristers in different sectors. The Employed Bar has a dedicated website, providing information about the awards and how to make nominations.
The Bar Council was shortlisted in three Association Excellence Awards 2017 categories: Best Association Conference for the Bar Council's 31st Annual Bar & Young Bar Conference; Best PR Campaign for the campaign 'Defending the Judiciary'; and the Association Leadership Award for the 'Wellbeing at the Bar' initiative.
The importance of public service and the need for the two branches of the legal profession to work together to achieve this were highlighted by the Chairman of the Bar in an interview for the Gazette.
The Bar Council backed the Lord Chancellor's comments on post-Brexit civil justice cooperation. "The Lord Chancellor emphasised the importance of maintaining civil justice cooperation with EU Member States and underlined the significant contribution the legal services sector and our system of justice make to the UK economy", said the Chairman of the Bar. "Preserving certainty and uniformity for cross-border civil and family judgments is critical to the protection of millions of citizens who travel to or buy goods from other Member States. The same applies to thousands of small businesses which operate across borders."
The Bar Council's book International Rule of Law Lectures 2007-2016 was published, and is now available in hardback.
14 February 2017