Chairman's Newsletter

March 2000

1.                   This Newsletter updates members about progress made by the Association since October 1998. The Chairman apologises to members for not being able, due to other work commitments, to send out any Newsletters in 1999.  As will be obvious from this Newsletter, the Chairman is pleased to confirm that the Association continues to make progress on many fronts.

 2.                   Association's Website : Members should note that the Chairman designed, launched in  January 1999 (and continuously maintains) a website presence for the Association at www.balgps.freeserve.co.uk. The Chairman regularly places lots of up-to-date information on the website and, as such, members are encouraged to access the website for more up-to-date news and information about the Association and the Bar Council.

 The Chairman appreciates that not all members have access to the Internet. This Newsletter, therefore, summarises some of the important information available on the website. Any member wishing to place any information on the website should contact the Chairman for further information. Articles of general interest to members are always welcome.

 The Chairman is minded to set up an e-mail group of members so that Newsletters and other more up-to-date information can be e-mailed quickly to members. Any member wishing to be part of this e-mail group should e-mail the Chairman at: Chairman@balgps.freeserve.co.uk.

 

3.             Raising the Association's Profile : In keeping with the Feedback Questionnaire results of 1998, the Chairman has continued to raise the profile of the Association by:-

      representing the Association on the Bar Council (the Chairman was successful in securing co-option to the Bar Council in May 1999); and

      working with other professional organisations, such as the Association of Council Secretaries & Solicitors, Local Government Association, CIPFA's Best Value Advisory Service, Law Society's Local Government Group and the Local Government Information Unit.

 In addition, following the successful completion of his LLM in Employment & Industrial Relations Law in late 1998, the Chairman published a booklet on the 'Implications of the Human Rights Act 1998 for UK Local Government'. This booklet is available to members (free of charge) from the Chairman.

The Chairman has also spoken extensively at national conferences organised on the Human Rights Act and is speaking at other national conferences this year.

4.                Chairman's commitments for 1999 / 2000 : Some highlights from the Chairman's commitments in 1999, along with a list of his current commitments for 2000, are attached. Any member wishing to play a more active part in the work of the Association is encouraged to contact the Chairman or the Secretary.

5.             Articles written by the Chairman in 1999 / 2000:

The Chairman has written articles, for various national organisations, on:-

      Preparing for Best Value Service Review of Legal Services;

      Consultation in Local Government Legal Services;

      Benchmarking in Local Government Legal Services;

      Business Excellence Model;

      Best Value : Productivity & Performance in Local Government Legal Services;

      Search for Quality : ISO 9001 Quality Assurance in Local Government Legal Services;

      Dawn of a new era of Rights; and

      The Silent Tide of Change (Human Rights Act).

Most of these articles are available on the Association's website. If any member would like a copy of any of the articles, please contact the Chairman.

6.                Association's membership : As respects attracting new members to the Association, the Chairman sent a letter, in January 1999, to almost all local authority chief executives in England & Wales. The Association only paid the postage costs of this initiative.  This initiative not only proved successful in raising the profile of the Association but also achieved its aim of increasing membership.

The Association's database now stands at about 110 members. Since 1998, 10 new members have joined and a few members have retired. Any member who knows of other barristers, who may wish to join our Association, should ask them to contact the Chairman or the Secretary for further information.

7.             Local Authority bias : In addition to the chief executive mail-shot initiative, the Chairman continues to challenge local authorities that blatantly advertise for 'solicitor only' positions.

These challenges are becoming less frequent and local authority jobs are now becoming increasingly open to employed barristers. Once the right to litigate restriction is removed by the Bar Council (hopefully, later this year!), there will no longer be any reason why employed barristers could not be considered and appointed to 'Solicitor to the Council' positions.

8.                Feedback on the Consultation Questionnaire:  As will be apparent from the above, the Chairman has endeavoured to progress and successfully address, within the time available to him, all the points raised in the Consultation Questionnaire of 1998, viz.:-

      "Enhanced rights of audience and rights to conduct litigation (this received unanimous support);

      Maintain profile of employed bar and representation at the Bar Council;

      Deal with local authority bias towards employed solicitors and against employed barristers; and

      Undertake a marketing drive to increase membership of the Association."

With the support of the membership, the Chairman will continue to build on the progress made to date. If any member wishes to raise any other subjects for action by the Association, s/he is encouraged to contact the Chairman or the Secretary.

9.       Association's consultations : The Association has continued to consider (and duly respond where time has permitted) to Consultation papers issued by the Government with regard to:-

      ĹModernising Local Governmentĺ (on Best Value, Ethical Standards, Monitoring Officer and 'New Constitution' arrangements);

      Rights of audience and rights to conduct litigation;

      Review of Judicial appointments & QC selection procedures; and

      Restructuring the Bar Vocational Course.

The Chairman & Vice-Chairman also attended a high level meeting, in 1999, with officials from the Department of the Environment & the Regions. Such meeting helped to inform and influence Government thinking on the Best Value provisions known as the 'Henry VIII clauses' (now contained in the Local Government Act 1999).

The Chairman will continue to watch developments in these areas and undertake appropriate further work when legislation is proposed. If any member would like any further information on any of the above consultations, please do not hesitate to contact the Chairman.

10.          Bar Council News: In May 1999, the Chairman, after a direct approach to Dan Brennan (the then Chairman of the Bar Council), was co-opted to represent the Association on the Bar Council.

In addition, the Chairman is also a member of the highly prestigious Working Group, chaired by Lord Alexander, which is looking at the future composition of the Bar Council. The Alexander Working Group has agreed to recommend, inter alia, that our Association should be represented, as of right, on the Bar Council. The recommendations are likely to go to the Bar Council meeting in April 2000. 

This is a major recognition and improvement for our Association. We will need to ensure, however, that our Association continues to flourish, if it wishes to retain that position of influence on the Bar Council. For example, we could lose that position if, on a future review of the composition of the Bar, it was determined that the size of our membership did not warrant an automatic place.

Attached are some 'highlights' from previous Bar Council meetings. If any member would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Chairman.

11.          Annual Subscriptions: The subscriptions for 1999/ 2000 / 2001 will remain as follows:

Full members :                                             ú12.00

Associate / Retired  members :                ú  6.00

Members are encouraged to pay their tax-deductible subscriptions by Standing Order. Any member who established a Standing Order, prior to 1996, is also encouraged to update his/her Standing Order to the new banking details of the Association. If a member would like a fresh standing order mandate, please contact the Chairman.

12.          AGM & Elections 2000 : The Chairman and Secretary will endeavour to call an AGM for later this year. In the meantime, if any member wishes to be co-opted to serve on the Executive Committee of the Association, s/he should contact the Chairman or the Secretary.  Members of the Executive Committee include : -

 Vice-Chairman & Honorary Auditor:

Julie James, Swansea City Council

Public Relations Officer:

Marina Lipscomb, Milton Keynes Council

Elected Members:

Jonathan Teasdale

Tunji Fahm

Members' continued support and assistance

is most appreciated.

 

Mirza Ahmad

Chairman