Welcome to the South Eastern Circuit
Leader's Summer Message:
As many of you head off for some well-deserved relaxation, I thought I would take a moment to update you on what has been happening on the Circuit.
I am delighted that Susan Acland-Hood has agreed to start a pilot of the new ID scheme in October – fingers crossed it will ensure a good start to your day in court. Hopefully this scheme will finally end some of the humiliating experiences to which the Bar have been subjected on entering their places of work.
There are still many other issues on the list which I raised with her (http://southeastcircuit.org.uk/images/uploads/SEC_Reform_Release_17.01.18.pdf), so I will keep meeting with her to argue our case. Ms Acland-Hood seems largely in agreement with, and amenable to, the proposals I have raised.
Also, please keep an eye out for an event in early October to discuss the proposed HMCTS reforms (eg online pleas) and their effect on the rule of law – more details to follow.
After a somewhat turbulent time surrounding the implementation of AGFS, I am hopeful that we can continue to work together to show a united front. In particular, it is important that we all identify cases which are being paid particularly badly so that we have clear evidence to show the MoJ and continue to argue our case in a measured and constructive way for more funding. We are simply not being paid adequately, or at all at times, for the many hundreds/thousands of pages of material which have to be read and considered in order to do justice to our clients. We maintain a good working relationship with the MoJ and meet regularly.
Vulnerable Witnesses Advocacy Training
For those of you who have not yet undertaken this training, it is imperative that you now arrange a date for it. Although it is not yet obligatory, it seems likely that the position may well change next year for advocates undertaking cases involving vulnerable witnesses, so please don’t get caught out.
If you have already done the training but not the Stage 3 process (watching the videos on the Bar Council website then completing the online form on the next page), please do so as soon as possible so that records are up-to-date. If you do not complete Stage 3, then you will not be accredited even if you have undertaken the other training.
If you do not know how to go about getting trained, please contact my PA (H.Devey@churchcourtchambers.co.uk) for assistance.
Now that other areas have settled down, I intend to spend more time pushing for the adoption of the Sitting Hours protocol (https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/571291/sitting_hours_protocol_-_final.pdf).
It is absolutely vital that all advocates, judges, court clerks, ushers and jurors have a proper working week – and that they have clarity and certainty at the start of that week so that they can organise caring or other commitments. You should all be entitled to arrange your lives in advance, whether that means sorting out childcare or committing to attend rehearsals or training sessions. You will already have seen my strong views on this topic.
Sitting more sensible hours, 10.15am to 4.15am, also crucially allows us to attend to the increasingly more onerous (mostly unpaid) work (conferences, Bad character/hearsay applications/replies, opening notes, sentencing notes, skeleton arguments, the list goes on . . . ) on the other cases for which we have conduct. It keeps those other cases oiled and moving forward.
We have now had three excellent well-being seminars, where members of the judiciary, as well as other experts, have spoken about their experiences. I am incredibly grateful to all those who have given up their time to organise these events and can thoroughly recommend that you attend a future session.
For my thoughts on well-being generally, do read your July issue of The Circuiteer for which many thanks go to Karim Khalil QC and his team for putting the magazine together (http://southeastcircuit.org.uk/images/uploads/SEC_circuiteer_45_web.pdf).
Keble Advanced Advocacy Course
If you are attending Keble this summer, I know that you are in for a treat – it may be hard work, but it is an incredible experience and you will learn so much. My sincere thanks to all the faculty who give up their time, unpaid, to the Circuit to enable this prestigious and much respected course to take place. It remains the jewel in the South Eastern Circuit’s crown.
Many congratulations to Max Hill QC on his appointment as the new DPP. I feel really encouraged that the person soon to be running the CPS has an acute understanding of what life is really like at the Criminal Bar, as well as a strong belief in the criminal justice system and the rule of law - not to mention a great empathy for the South Eastern Circuit, having preceded me as Leader. I have no doubt that he will use his new position to great effect.
The first document Max will receive on his desk is one setting out all the problems facing prosecution counsel at every level from prosecuting in the Magistrates’ Courts to the work that fills the Treasury Counsel’s room at the Bailey. One issue that plagues counsel daily, is that counsel should not face the absurdity of having to call evidencein order to be paid their first day of a trial. On that first day of trial, prosecution counsel is always running around doing all manner of tasks to get the trial up and running, and often opens the case to a jury, to be then not be paid the full rate! If it is listed for trial and is effective it should be paid as day 1, simple. If the CPS want the best people to prosecute their work this is the first step to retaining them.
Resident Judges’ Meetings
I still try to visit as many judges as I possibly can to share views on making the whole system better for both the Bar and the Judiciary.
My next visit is to Wood Green on 9th August.
I have regular meetings with Julia Macur LJ, our Senior Presiding Judge. She totally understands the work that the Bar does to keep the justice system operating. I have found her thoroughly down to earth, in tune with the Bar, and a breath of fresh air.
Thanks to Bill Mousley QC, Leader of the Western Circuit, and his merry band who treated me so royally at Grand Night in Winchester on 13th July. I can see how the Great Hall gets its name.
The Lord Chief Justice joined us and impressed all with his modesty, approachability and excellence.
I am grateful to my Officers, the Committee and, of course, to the indefatigable Aaron, without whom none of this would be possible; and to all of you who pass on feedback, make constructive suggestions and make this role so productive and enjoyable. I also thank Harriet, my PA, for her supreme efficiency, hard work and good humour.
So, I wish you all a happy summer, whether you are going away or spending it in an unseasonably sunny London. I look forward to working with, and for, you for the last five months of my leadership of this glorious Circuit.
Kerim Fuad QC
Church Court Chambers
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit