Bar Council Annual Report 2016-17

Aim 1: Influence Policy

Securing and promoting the work of the Bar and its role in society


Aim 1: Influence Policy

Introduction

The Bar Council has continued to act as a powerful influence on the development and implementation of Government policy, aiming to secure the highest standards of justice, equity, integrity, access and efficiency in our justice system.

This work, carried out largely by the Communications & Marketing and Policy teams, and the office of the Chair of the Bar, included:

  • Briefing parliamentarians and drafting amendments to the Prisons and Courts Bill to protect the quality and standard of justice
  • Positioning the Bar Council as a lead commentator on the implications of Brexit and supporting the civil service, Government Ministers, parliamentarians and the media in understanding the complex legal and policy issues arising
  • Campaigning with charities and other legal professional organisations to protect legally privileged communications from state surveillance
  • Commissioning academic research on the effects of LASPO and the impact of paid McKenzie Friends, and
  • Working with the Ministry of Justice and the Inns of Court College of Advocacy to develop training for advocates dealing with vulnerable witnesses.

Click on the links below for more information about the Bar Council's work to influence Government policy.

Court reform    

 

 

The Government’s consultation, Transforming our Justice System, published in September 2016, outlined an ambitious programme of court reform, including plans for more civil and criminal proceedings to take place online, and for increased use of telephone and video hearings. 

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Brexit        

      

  

 

      

Since the referendum result in June 2016, the Bar Council Brexit Working Group has played a leading role in evaluating the legal and constitutional implications of Brexit and has produced a raft of much-needed guidance for Government and the media.

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Access to justice

The Bar Council continued to impress upon Government the importance of honouring its commitment to carrying out a full review of the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) on access to justice, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

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Flexible Operating Hours

In 2017, the Government proposed a pilot to extend court sitting hours as part of the broader programme of court reform. The Government chose, however, not to consult on these plans before they were announced.

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AGFS           

        

  

 

In 2017, the Government proposed a pilot to extend court sitting hours as part of the broader programme of court reform. The Government chose, however, not to consult on these plans before they were announced.

Continue reading . . . 

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Legal Professional Privilege

The Bar Council led a multi-stakeholder campaign targeting Government, Parliament and the media to amend provisions of the Investigatory Powers Bill in order to limit state surveillance of legally privileged communications.

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McKenzie friends

In June 2016, the Bar Council’s response to the Lord Chief Justice’s consultation on the courts’ approach to paid McKenzie Friends asserted the view that McKenzie Friends, should not be allowed to hold themselves out to often unsuspecting and vulnerable members of the public to provide legal services for reward.

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Vulnerable witnesses

In mid-2016, the Bar Council assumed responsibility for coordinating the delivery of specialist training for criminal advocates dealing with vulnerable witnesses. 

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Other consultations

The Bar Council responded to further Government and judiciary led consultations in 2016-17.

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Parliamentary committees

The Bar Council contributed to the work of a range of parliamentary select committees throughout 2016-17.

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