Of all the Services funded by the Bar Representation Fee (BRF), the Ethical Enquiries Service (EES) is probably the most well known. It is a confidential service provided to barristers and their clerks and support staff to help ensure compliance with our ethical duties and responsibilities set out in the BSB Handbook. The Service receives an average of around 500 calls per month. Less urgent calls will usually be sent by e-mail.
I'm a member of the Ethics Committee which oversees the Ethical Enquiries Team. The Team is made up from 11 permanent staff members who will have dual responsibility, that is, they will be part of other teams, such as the Equality and Diversity Team in addition to acting as an adviser on the EES.
Complex written enquiries will tend to be escalated to the Ethics Committee which is made up of 12 QC's and 13 Juniors from different practice areas.
The more complex urgent telephone enquiries which cannot be dealt with by the advisers are also escalated to committee members. The usual practice is that the staff member will e-mail the Silks/Juniors on the Committee who practice in the same area of practice as the person raising the query, giving a very brief synopsis of the query, the advice given by the staff member and the contact details.
For me that would be a family query. If I am available I will e-mail that I am picking up the query and then I will make telephone contact and talk through the problem. Sometimes this will involve just one call but at other times it may involve further dialogue as the situation at court will usually be dynamic. When the query is completed I will feed back to the staff member adviser the gist of the resolution of the query so that if a similar situation arises they can potentially deal with the query themselves.
It's not the only service we provide. The staff members work with members of the Ethics Committee in updating and reviewing the Bar Council Guidance documents on professional practice and ethics hub. The guidance documents are produced to try and give advance help on the more obvious and common queries raised by barristers and their clerks and support staff.
I think the service is invaluable. If you do too remember to tick yes to the optional BRF fee!
Susan Grocott QC undertook pupillage in London in Fountain Court where she was a pupil of Peter Goldsmith, the former attorney general and David Railton, and at 5 Pump Court with Michael Jennings. In 1988 Susan joined Queens Chambers in Manchester and established a mixed common law practice which evolved into a busy family practice particularly in money work and care proceedings.
Susan moved to the family team at Deans Court Chambers in 2002 from where she continued to build a formidable reputation as a leading family practitioner in both money and children work. Susan's practice has always encompassed all aspects of family and related work including professional negligence claims in the family field, TOLATA, declaratory work and judicial review.
In 2008 Susan was appointed to the rank of Queens Counsel. She was Leading Counsel for the Local Authority in Re S-B.
Susan has developed a reputation for a meticulous eye for detail and powerful straightforward advocacy. In silk Susan continues to undertake both money and care/private law children work and she increasingly undertakes advisory work for various public bodies on practice/policy issues.
Susan is a speaker in demand and gives seminars on a variety of topics both in chambers and to a number or organisations in the North and overseas.