The work of the Bar Council International Team focuses on promoting the Bar to international markets, supporting the rule of law internationally and encouraging the use of English law in international jurisdictions.
Rule of law
As part of its work to promote the rule of law in 2016-17, the Bar Council:
- Organised the 10th Annual International Rule of Law lecture, delivered by Baroness Françoise Tulkens, former Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights, and celebrated the anniversary of the lecture by publishing a book of the first 10 lectures, and
- Took part in a high level Foreign and Commonwealth Office sponsored event in Beijing on the theme: “Legal and Judicial Co-operation on the Belt and Road”. The visit by the Chair of the Bar included a one-day conference at Renmin University, a networking event with the Bar Council Training Scheme alumni and a side visit with the Chinese equivalent of the Justice Minister, which was televised. The visit also provided a good opportunity to promote England and Wales and the services that the Bar can provide to Chinese lawyers and clients.
Additionally, the Bar Council continued to speak out whenever and wherever rule of law crises occurred. In 2016-17 the Bar Council wrote five letters to highlight concern over:
- The arbitrary arrest and trial of lawyer, Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla in the Republic of Cameroon
- Ongoing human rights violations and attacks on the legal profession in Turkey
- The abduction of Bangladeshi lawyer, Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem
- The killing of 70 people, mainly lawyers and journalists, in Pakistan, and
- The mass arrest of judges in Turkey.
International relationships and business development
To promote the Bar of England and Wales to new clients and to build relationships with members of legal professions in international jurisdictions, in 2016-17 the Bar Council:
- Undertook a business development mission to South Korea, China and Hong Kong to strengthen ties with Asia’s legal sector
- Held the fourth Russian Law Week in London. The conference, organised in partnership with the Law Society and the Russian Bars, was attended by some 170 Russian, CIS and UK lawyers. For the first time, chambers hosted a series of roundtable discussions for participants
- Held the first English-Cypriot Law Day in Nicosia, Cyprus, attended by over 100 Cypriot lawyers and around 20 barristers from England & Wales
- Hosted 12 Chinese lawyers from some of China’s leading law firms in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Changzhou as part of the 26th Bar Council China Training Scheme (BCTS). The BCTS aims to give Chinese lawyers an understanding of the English legal system, the way barristers operate and how to instruct them, whilst at the same time building their legal skills and knowledge required for international practice. The chambers selected to host the lawyers gained a unique insight into the Chinese legal market.
- Delivered a three-week training scheme for young Russian and Ukrainian lawyers. The programme aims to raise participants' understanding and awareness of how the English, Russian and Ukrainian legal systems operate, how the legal profession in the host country functions, and how to work most effectively with colleagues from the other jurisdiction
- Jointly with Inner Temple and the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Bar Council hosted a half-day conference to brief around 30 High Commissioners on the legal system of England and Wales, showcasing the role of barristers and the international legal services they provide, and
- Awarded, via the Bar Scholarship Trust, 24 grants to assist barristers of seven years’ practice and under to participate in international legal events of their choice to contribute towards their professional development.
In June 2017, the Chair of the Bar led a delegation of barristers to Brazil for the Bar Council’s third business development mission to the country. The programme included meetings and roundtable discussions with local law firms and legal associations, as well as seminars for the local Bars, in which barristers addressed audiences on international arbitration, fraud and regulation. A group of four barristers and two solicitors joined the delegation for the events in Sao Paulo before spending two weeks in leading law firms in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as part of the British-Brazilian Exchange Programme.
Following the success of last year's seminar in Cyprus, the Bar Council's International Committee, in partnership with the Cyprus Bar Association, are organising their second English-Cypriot Law Day in Limassol.
Opening of the Legal Year
In September 2017, the Bar Council will host over 60 international Bar leaders for the Opening of the Legal Year activities. The programme, hosted jointly with the Law Society, will feature roundtable discussions on technological innovation to increase access to justice, diversity in the legal profession and judiciary, and international trade in legal services and the rule of law.
English Law Week
The fourth English Law Week will be held in November 2017 and, for the first time, will take place in two Russian cities: Moscow and St Petersburg.
International Rule of Law Lecture
Dr Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights - in particular the rights of women, children, and political prisoners in Iran -will deliver the 11th International Rule of Law Lecture on 9 November 2017.
Contact and further information
The Bar Council
289-293 High Holborn