1999 BAR COUNCIL NEWS

(Page updated : 01/01/2000)


Bar Council Meeting - 8th May 1999 :  

The Chairman was co-opted to serve on the General Council of the Bar. Other business transacted at the meeting included consideration of:

(1) the "Way Ahead" Committee's report on pupillages & In-service training (The Collyear Committee);

(2) Accreditation of barristers specialising in immigration & asylum matters;

(3) Minor changes to the Code of Conduct relating to independent practice; and

(4) Minimum wage implications for pupil barristers.

The Collyear Committee report was accepted in principle and will now be subject to wider consultation with the profession. Our Association will welcome the report as it represents a tremendous improvement of the employed bar's position.

The report, for example, recognises that employed pupillages should be treated on equal footing with pupillages in chambers. The report also recommends, amongst other things, that only up to 3 months in chambers be undertaken to complete the 12 months employed pupillage requirement and a '3 year rule' similar to the independent bar rule (which prohibits a barrister from entering into sole practice in the first 3 years of independent practice) should be introduced for the employed bar before an employed barrister could set up in sole practice.

The report also tackles the issue of deferred Call and use of the title barrister prior to completion of full pupillage, maintenance of standards and common vocational training with the Law Society.

Our Association made representations to the Collyear Committee over a comparable rule being introduced for the employed bar and encouraged the Committee to recommend that the full 12 months pupillage could be served in employed. The Association is, therefore, pleased with the interim report and will be making further representations, shortly, on the interim report.

Anyone wishing to know more about this report (which consists of more than 50 pages) is welcome to contact the Chairman. Any member wishing to make representations on the report should ensure that his/her comments are sent to the Chairman by 30th May 1999. Any member who wishes to raise any matter with the General Council of the Bar is welcome to contact the Chairman.

For further information on the work of the Bar Council :

Please contact the Chairman on the following e-mails :

Mirza.Ahmad@birmingham.gov.uk or chairman@balgps.org.uk


A Briefing Note from Niall Morison, Chief Executive of the Bar Council, appears below:

BRIEFING NOTE OF THE MEETING OF THE BAR COUNCIL

HELD ON 8TH MAY 1999

 

1. The following is a short note of the meeting of the Bar Council that took place on Saturday 8th May which can used by members of the Bar Council for the purposes of briefing their constituency chambers.

2. Chairman's Statement and Access to Justice

The Chairman's introductory statement was short and covered his recent visit to Europe, conditional fee agreements and subscriptions. He concluded by a short reference to the proposal for a Bar Services company and the role of the Employed Bar. David Bean QC followed by giving a short factual statement on progress of the Access to Justice Bill which is currently at the Committee Stage in the House of Commons.

3. Collyear

The first substantive item was to receive the report of the Way Ahead Committee chaired by Sir John Collyear. Sir John explained the status of the paper which was an exposure draft and that he expected by the next meeting of the Bar Council in July his committee would have taken on board the comments received and amended the report accordingly. Further debate on implementation will take place at the July meeting Members of the Bar are being urged to consider the draft and to make their comments known to the working party.

4. Minimum Wage

The issue of minimum wage and working time regulations has been the subject of much concern. No solution was offered at the meeting, but a variety of views concerning the opinions attached to the agenda was offered. The matter is being pursued urgently by the GMC.

5. Information Technology

The importance and relevance of information technology to the Bar was stressed by Owen Davies QC who had recently attended the ABA Tec Show in Chicago at the request of the Chairman. Having briefly outlined the wide range of information technology available to the Bar, Owen Davies QC proposed to return with a blue print in July.

6. Bar Services Company

The proposal for a Bar Services Company was approved in principle and implementation of the scheme will be brought to the Bar Council at its next meeting.

7. Accreditation

Accreditation was fully and extensively considered after a thorough introduction by Anthony Speaight QC, Chairman of the working party whose report was before the meeting. It was approved by a significant majority at the end of an excellent debate during which the meeting recognised the sensitivity of accepting the principle of a voluntary scheme of accreditation. The item will be back on the agenda for the Bar Council in July when proposals for implementation will be before it.

8. Other Items

The Chairman made a brief statement on multi-disciplinary practises and the meeting agreed that no change was required to the current policy of prohibiting multidisciplinary practises for the independent practitioner. The Chairman did indicate that the issue may have to be reviewed to deal with the position of employed barristers. The remaining items on the agenda were approved formally. They included regularising the position of the membership of the Joint Regulation Committee, the fitness to practise rules amendments to the Code on barristers who are members of the Welsh assembly and the Scottish Parliament, and the recognition of the Notaries Society for direct professional access. In addition, the Institute of Indirect Taxation was approved for Direct Professional Access and Mirza Ahmad, Chairman of the Bar Association for Local Government and Public Service was co-opted.


AGM of the General Council of the Bar: 12th June 1999

Held at the Great Hall, Lincoln 's Inn on 12th June 1999 at 10.30 am .

NOTES :

  1. Except for the Proposer of a resolution who may speak for seven minutes, no subscriber shall be entitled without the consent of the Chairman of the meeting to speak more than once for more than five minutes on the same subject.
  2. Only subscribers are entitled to vote.
  3. A proxy vote requires notice to the Chief Executive at least 24 hours prior to the meeting of due medical or religious grounds preventing attendance at the meeting and must be cast by either a nominated representative at the meeting or the Chairman of the meeting.

1. Chairman's Address

To receive a report from Daniel Brennan QC.

2. Treasurer's Report

    1. To receive a report from Douglas Day QC.
    2. To note the Bar Council's Accounts for 1998.

3. Chief Executive's Report

To receive a report from Niall Morison.

4. Constitutional Amendments

In accordance with the requirements of para 30(c) of the Constitution of the General Council of the Bar, the meeting is invited to note alterations to the Constitution agreed since the last Annual General Meeting and circulated with the notification of this meeting.

5. Resolutions

5.1 This meeting invites the Bar Council to introduce fair representation for 'non-practising' and employed barristers on the Bar Council.

Propo.sed by: Gudrun Para.sie

Seconded by: Penelope Alfrey

5.2 This meeting supports the Bar Council's policy to ensure that:

    1. access to justice is maintained through a modern and efficient Bar, both independent and employed
    2. there is a healthy level of entry from high quality applicants with sufficient financial support
    3. the Bar's role in the legal system and the community is fully developed.

Proposed by: Daniel Brennan QC

Seconded by: Jonathan Hirst QC

5.3:Age discrimination in selection for pupillages and tenancies or otherwise is contrary to the public interest, is unfair to those seeking to enter the legal profession, and as a restrictive practice, is unfair to clients. Discrimination is outlawed by Paragraph 204 of the Bar Code if based on "race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, religion or political persuasion". Age should be added to the list.

Proposed by: George Stern

Seconded by: Peter O'Brian

 


MAIN RESULTS OF AGM

RESOLUTION 5.1 was amended at the meeting to read ' This meeting invites the Bar Council to enquire into the issue of fair representation for 'non-practising' and employed barristers on the Bar Council'.

RESOLUTION 5.2 was also carried (unamended).

A Working Party is likely to be established at which all interested parties are likely to be represented. The Association can, therefore, look forward to making a positive contribution to this debate.


Bar Council Meeting : 17th July 1999

Parliament Chamber, Temple, London

1. Chairman's Statement

The Chairman in his opening statement briefly summarised the state of play in the Access to Justice Bill. He referred to the objectives clause on which the Government had conceded, although it appeared in two parts and in weaker form. The clause relating to the rights of audience of the Employed Bar reflected a satisfactory outcome, but the anomaly on allowing solicitors and claims assessors to undertake "non contentious business" on a contingency fee agreement still applied.

The Chairman reported on progress Concerning BarDirect, Bar Mark and the proposals to set up the Bar Services Company. All these issues would lead to developing in the next term the Bar's profile and promoting the advantages of using the Bar. He identified three features in this context, price, choice and ensuring that the lay client was aware of such choice.

2. Collyear

The Collyear report was presented to the meeting and the Bar Council accepted the report in principle and endorsed the six key themes which appear in paragraph 1.8 of the report. These will be taken forward by Education and Training and Professional Standards with a view to implementing and reporting back in October.

3. Bar Council Finance

The report on Bar Council finances was approved. In presenting the report, the Vice Chairman emphasised two points, namely the value of keeping subscriptions in line with inflation on a more regular basis, and secondly the need to improve the level of reserves which currently languished at a quarter of the level of annual expenditure. A suggestion made and endorsed was the need for the Bar Council to be advised of the financial implications of any proposals put before it.

4. Employed and Non Practising Bar

There was debate on the item relating to representation on the Bar Council on the Employed and Non-Practising Bar. In the end the meeting agreed to the Terms of Reference and make-up of the Alexander Working Party as revised in the table item. The terms agreed were: "In view of the implications of the Access to Justice Bill with particular regard to the Employed and Non-Practising Bar, and having regard to the increase in the numbers and the changes in the conditions and circumstances of practice of the Bar,

  1. To consider the extent of any changes needed to the composition of the membership of the Bar Council, so as to ensure that the governing body of the profession can efficiently and fully carry out its functions, representing the interests of all subscribers.
  2. To consider matters reasonably ancillary to the forgoing
  3. To make recommendations.

On the matter of the interim provision arrangement for increased representation on the Bar Council by the employed and non-practising Bar, the Treasurer explained that it would be difficult for some of the employed Bar organisations to meet the timetable for elections under the interim provision, and in any event, there were consequential considerations for others participating in the election process. There was no consensus of approach emanating from the employed and non practising Bar representatives at the meeting, therefore it was agreed that provision should be made to co-opt for one year only, five barristers representing the five sectional interests of the employed and non-practising Bar covering BACFI, CPS, Legal Services, Local Government and non-practising barristers.

The GMC was invited to approach each one of the above bodies to nominate a person to sit on the Bar Council. This would be effected by amending paragraph 2 (X) of part 2 of the Bar Council's Constitution to allow for nine subscribers to be co-opted to the Bar Council of whom five are elected for one year from the 1~ January 2000 to represent the employed and non-practising Bar.

5. Other Business

Of the remaining items on the agenda the amendment to Regulation 10 of the Constitution for the election was approved, there were no comments made on BarDirect, the meeting agreed with the implementation proposals on Bar Services Company and the remaining items on Establishment Directive, reports on the validated institutions, professional standards (BMIF defaulters and definition amendments) specialist accreditation, joint regulations and the joint statement on the qualified law degrees were approved.

In addition Owen Davies QC and Stephen Hockman QC gave an outline on developing the strategy for the Bar on information technology which included proposals to incorporate into education and training an element of information technology skills, and to ensure that every set of chambers had a facility for email by the end of the year.

6. Terms of Work

Finally, a proposal to amend the terms of work on which barristers offer their services to solicitors was put before the Bar Council by Geoffrey Vos QC. This was approved and will enable the Bar Council to amend the scheme so that under the circumstances outlined in the scheme the Chairman would be able to the report the facts to the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors with a request that it commenced proceeding against the solicitor concerned before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. It is hoped in this way it will get round the decision of the Law Society not to handle complaints of non payment of counsel's fees by solicitors.


MAIN HIGHLIGHTS OF BAR COUNCIL MEETING - 16th October 1999

 

1. Chairman's Statement

The Chairman referred to the Human Rights training programme for the Criminal Bar which had just been launched that morning with training for the trainers. He reported that the DPP had indicated that the CPS would not instruct barristers who were not competent in Human Rights. He reported on fee matters including the Government's intention to proceed with the introduction of graduated fees, and the Government's resolution to reduce costs in high cost criminal cases. He also referred to the continuing disparity of fees between prosecution and defence counsel, a matter which he was pursuing.

On the issue of MDP's he suggested that present arguments were superficial and there was no evidence of the need for MDP's. He believed the move to MDP's was solely profit motivated by the big five accountancy firms. The Chairman covered other issues including entry and funding, relations with other bars, and Pro-Bona Work.

2. Access to Justice Act

There was a reference to the timetable which appeared at Annex 1 to the agenda, and congratulations to Gordon Nardell for the tremendous work he had done in drafting many amendments during the currency of the Bill. The Chairman awarded a red bag to Gordon Nardell.

3. Education and Training;

Peter Gross QC reported on the latest position concerning the case of Edmunds -v-Lawson on the minimum wage and that an appeal would be heard this term. The pupillage monitoring report demonstrated that most pupillages offered good value. It was agreed that future reports should include pupillages provided by Government Legal Service. The recommendations contained in the report at Annex 2 were approved.

Peter Gross QC outlined the proposals on PACH which were aimed at exploding offers. in addition to the material at Annex 3 a draft timetable was tabled. Peter Cross QC explained that the Law Society already had guidelines, which dealt with this problem. The report on PACH was accepted and it was agreed to bring back proposals in December.

4. BarDIRECT

James Munby QC referred to the draft regulations at Annex 5 and invited comment. He reported that there was much work going on behind the scenes and that there were two significant developments in the pilot scheme involving insolvency and medical negligence cases. The first concerned access by

insolvency practitioners, and the second access by the Medical Protection Society and the Medical Defence Union. James Munby QC said an up to date report on the position is contained in Counsel Magazine for October. The proposals for code changes, recognition regulations and BarDirect Rules would be before the Bar Council meeting in November for final approval.

5. High Cost Cases

Roy Amlot QC elaborated on the Bar's response to the consultation paper on 'Ensuring quality and controlling cost in very high cost criminal cases'. This appeared at Annex 6. He referred to a new proposal which had appeared in the consultation paper equating levels of remuneration for barristers with judicial salaries. There was much support from the meeting against using such a measure for setting the level of fees as it would provide a disincentive to the most able.

6. Other Matters

Other topics covered in the meeting included a report on the chambers contact scheme on which Robin de Wilde QC said that it was difficult to find out how effective it was, but he did indicate the need to know how it was working. The final topic covered was the election of officers in which Jonathan Hirst QC was confirmed as Chairman and Douglas Day QC confirmed as Treasurer. There are four candidates far the position of Vice Chairman, namely Roy Amlot QC, Michael Lawson QC, Stephen Hockman QC and Robin de Wilds QC and election will be by a single transferable vote. Ballot papers will be forwarded to Bar Council members for return no later than 10:00am Monday Ist November 1999.

 


MAIN HIGHLIGHTS OF BAR COUNCIL MEETING - 13 NOVEMBER 1999

 

1. Chairman's Statement

The Chairman referred to the recent "vision" of the President of the Law Society reflected in his speech to the Law Society Conference at Disneyland. He said that the Bar Council was too busy to waste time promoting ideas which were a complete non starter and it was more important to concentrate on the real issues such as working to improve client care, supporting the training of lawyers in human rights legislation and retaining the right to elect trial by jury.

Moving on to other matters the Chairman made reference to the review of the criminal justice system which he expected might adopt a similar line to Woolf and on which he expected the Bar to play a part.

2. Bar Council Budget 2000

Douglas Day QC referred to the proposals contained in Annex 1 of the agenda which referred to the need to increase subscription rates by 15% in line with the retail price index since the previous increase in September 1994. In addition the rates for the employed Bar would be increased to reflect the enhanced status under the Access to Justice Act. The Inns Council had approved a subvention of 15% in relation to the general subvention and 5% in respect of Education and Training. The proposals for the budget and subscription increase were approved subject to a plea from Derek Wheatley of the Bar Association Commerce Finance and Industry that the employed Bar be given some consideration about the substantial increase they were facing.

3. Complaints System

After an introduction and outline of the current review of complaints by Anthony Speight QC the proposals contained in Annex 2 and the recommendations therein were approved. These recommendations will need to come back to the Bar Council when they have been translated into rules.

4. Death Penalty

This item was introduced by Martin Bowley QC and he referred to the resolution of the American Bar Association of February 1997 where the House of Delegates called for a moratorium on the execution of prisoners until such time as the law could be administered fairly and impartially. The Bar Council after some debate adopted the resolutions that were tabled, and approved by the ABA House of Delegates. It was also agreed that a resolution be put to the AGM in 2000 along the lines that the Bar opposes the death penalty in principle.

5. Other Matters

In relation to the remainder of the matters on the agenda the arbitration rules, Honorary membership of the Bar - Ramon Mullerat and Roberta Cooper Ramo -the establishment directive and the reappointment of a Complaints Commissioner these were all approved.


MAIN HIGHLIGHTS OF BAR COUNCIL MEETING - 11TH DECEMBER 1999

 

1. Chairman's Statement

The Chairman reported on the reaction to the recent correspondence and press coverage on legal aid remuneration. He had received a large number of calls particularly from the Young Bar who were incensed at the terminology being used by the Government in relation to payments on legal aid. He made three points- first, that he hoped prosecution fees would be increased, secondly, in the recent meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Lord Chancellor's Department there had been no statement that the levels of criminal legal aid were not reasonable, thirdly, negotiations were continuing with the department in relation to criminal and civil legal aid. The Chairman also referred to Human Rights and the importance of the Bar in the context of protecting the citizen.

2. Criminal Justice (Mode of Trial) Bill

Roy Amlot QC reported on the second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords. Lobbying had taken place with Peers as well as MPs. The Bar would continue to fight against any change involving the removal of this ancient right in either way cases.

3. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry - Response of the Bar Council

The Bar Council approved the response. It is the first comprehensive response of its type from a major body and he and Lincoln Crawford would be meeting the Home Secretary and the Steering Group set up after the conclusion of the Inquiry by the Home Office. Particular reference was made at the meeting to the implications given the research that will have to be done and be funded.

4. Access to Justice Act - Proposed Amendments to the Bar's Code of Conduct

After an introduction and presentation by George Leggatt QC, Chairman of the working party, there was a lengthy discussion with particular regard to the implications on the non practising barristers. James Birkin represented their views to the meeting. The consequences of the changes would eventually lead to their qualification being removed after the transitional provisions elapsed. The changes herald three major issues, the definition of a practising barrister, the pupillage requirements of employed barristers and the position of the non-practising Bar. After debate the changes proposed were approved including the transitional provisions. However, para. 42.3 of the Joint Regulations, part 5 on pupillage and entry to practice were deleted. This removes the requirement of any period of pupillage being spent in chambers.

5. PACH Review

Proposals were outlined by Peter Gross QC calling for a common timetable, the year early option, a review of the current PACH timetable and seeking agreement whereby those chambers outside PACH offering pupillage such offers would remain open until the PACH acceptance date. These proposals were approved coupled with an assurance given in relation to any discriminatory aspects to ensure the position was monitored.

6. Other Matters

Of the remaining items a brief presentation of the proposed legal information database was given, a report on the Bar Service Company was made, the interim suspension and fitness to practice rules were approved for implementation as of 1st February 2000 and chambers noted that the first Bar Mark had been awarded to the chambers of Rock Tansey QC, 3 Gray's Inn Square.


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