Haylie Page is the Bar Council’s International Project Officer, leading on the International Market Access Project. Here she writes about hosting the recent visit of members of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
For many years, the Bar Council of England and Wales has been forging closer relationships with bar associations in jurisdictions around the world and has welcomed many through its doors. September 2022 was no exception, as the Bar Council hosted seven senior members from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) – including its President Saliya Pieris – for a four-day programme of events. This marks the beginning of a future of collaboration and mutual support between the two organisations.
The programme for the delegates comprised several tours of iconic legal institutions in London and a series of bespoke seminars, tailored to the criminal and commercial specialisms of the delegates.
The delegates enjoyed touring centres at the heart of democracy, justice, and the rule of law in England and Wales, including the Houses of Parliament and the Supreme Court. In addition, the group visited criminal and commercial courts, including the Old Bailey, the Rolls Building and the International Dispute Resolution Centre, accompanied by volunteer barristers and judges.
Delegates also enjoyed a series of bespoke seminars, kindly delivered by members of the Bar, Bar Council staff, the Inns of Court, and senior judges. The seminars provided an overview of the Bar Council’s work and its ethical enquiries service, explored how ethics and advocacy are taught within the Bar, and considered the possibilities for digital case management. They also heard from several barristers and silks on timely topics, such as environmental maritime law and dumping, the management of criminal trials and appeals, and the opportunities for Alternative Dispute Resolution and Arbitration in Port City, the new economic zone and International Financial Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
A future partnership
The programme concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Bar Council of England and Wales and BASL. This MoU cements their future partnership and is the third MoU signed (alongside the Czech Republic and Guyana) under the two-year International Market Access Project (IMAP), a Ministry of Justice-funded project that seeks to improve market access for the Bar around the world.
Under the agreement, the two associations will encourage and promote mutual knowledge sharing and cooperation on measures to defend and promote the rule of law, as well as strengthen the potential for cross-border practice and legal services. The measures that will be taken by both Bar associations to ensure these shared goals are met are also laid out in the form of an action plan.
A global profession
We hope that for the delegates from BASL, this visit provided enlightening and memorable insights into the workings of the law and the Bar in England and Wales, and it was a pleasure to host them. Certainly, for the Bar Council, this visit further illuminated the similarities that connect lawyers and legal institutions defending justice and the rule of law around the world. It also re-affirmed the principle that underpins the foundation of the work of the Bar Council’s International Team: namely, that the Bar Council is as global-facing and interconnected as the profession it represents and that its doors remain wide open.