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Law Updates

Enforcement and Dispute Resolution

Over recent weeks David Davis’s Brexit department has published seven so-called partnership papers, one of which, entitled ‘Enforcement and Dispute Resolution’, covers the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The introduction to this paper states: “In leaving the European Union, we will bring about an end to the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The UK and the EU need therefore to agree on how both the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, and our new deep and special partnership, can be monitored and implemented to the satisfaction of both sides, and how any disputes which arise can be resolved.

“EU membership has meant an intrinsic link between the EU’s legal order and the legal systems in the UK. Withdrawal from the EU will mean a return to the situation where the UK and the EU have their own autonomous legal orders. The Withdrawal Agreement and the future partnership must respect the autonomy and integrity of both legal orders.”

Theresa May has insisted that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will come to an end with Brexit. The PM said the UK would “take back control of our laws.” Asked about her government’s position, Mrs May said: “What we will be able to do is to make our own laws – Parliament will make our laws – it is British judges that will interpret those laws, and it will be the British Supreme Court that will be the ultimate arbiter of those laws.”

Speaking during a visit to Guildford, the prime minister said: “What is absolutely clear, when we leave the European Union we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European court of justice. Parliament will make our laws. It is British judges who will interpret those laws and it will be the British supreme court that will be the arbiter of those laws.” And at the Tory conference last October, she spoke of a “Britain in which we pass our own laws and govern ourselves.”

Well that’s quite clear. Or is it? Critics say it will be impossible to avoid European judges having a role in enforcing new agreements drawn up with the EU. The promise to end “direct jurisdiction” in recent policy papers has raised questions about what “indirect” jurisdiction the EU court could be left with. The key question is how much influence the CJEU would retain under a bilateral agreement with the UK.

BBC Legal Correspondent Clive Coleman writes that “the EU will not sign up to an agreement which allows UK to depart from EU law to the UK’s advantage and the EU’s disadvantage on things like state aid to companies, or emissions standards. It will want a level playing field in trade and that will mean a lot of EU law as part of the agreement. The reality is that the more closely the Brexit trade agreement replicates EU law, the greater the influence of the CJEU will be.”

The pro-EU Open Britain campaign group said the government’s policy paper was a “climbdown camouflaged in jingoistic rhetoric.” The expanding scale of the prime minister’s climbdown over her promise to “take back control of British law” has led to discontent, with Tory Brexit supporters claiming Theresa May is abandoning the hardline position she set out in last year’s Conservative party conference speech and in a speech at Lancaster House in January.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer MP says the new document contradicts the “red line” on the European Court of Justice in the PM’s Lancaster House speech. “Any final deal with the EU that protects jobs and the economy will require an effective and robust dispute resolution mechanism,” he said. “This will inevitably involve some form of independent court.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said Mrs May’s “red lines are becoming more blurred by the day”, saying the CJEU had “served Britain’s interests well” and should not be “trashed.”

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign against a hard Brexit, said: “It appears that the Government realises that European judges will have some say over what happens in Britain, whether we are in the single market or not.”

Britain could remain under the direct control of the European court of justice for years after Brexit, and still be forced to implement the court’s rulings on vexed issues such as immigration.

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Prison reform

Prison reform was a key element of the Prisons and Courts Bill, abandoned in the run up to the general election. And it was not reinstated in the threadbare Queen’s Speech.

In his first public statement since taking up the post of justice secretary, David Lidington has sought to reassure that this apparent dropping of prison reform is not sinister. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published an open letter from him claiming that ‘essential’ changes are already under way to make prisons places of ‘safety and reform’.

“The work to make our prisons true places of reform and rehabilitation is already under way – and it will continue unabated,” Lidington writes. He details the work within local communities and with other services such as with Probation, Jobcentres, housing, health and drug services, local businesses and charities to provide innovative schemes and initiatives to prepare prisoners for a life after release and promises: “Only by building on this work to reform offenders and support ex-offenders will we stop the vicious and costly cycle of reoffending.

“This is my priority and as the new Secretary of State, I am committed to building on the essential reforms that are already under way to make prisons places of safety and reform.”

Stressing the importance of staffing he said: “My predecessor has already secured a £100 million a year investment for an extra 2,500 prison officers. The most recent figures show the number of prison officers in post has increased by 515 compared with the previous quarter and we are on track to deliver all 2,500 prison officers by December 2018.”

Lidington claimed that we are the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce testing for psychoactive substances across the estate. And more than 300 dogs have been trained to detect these substances.

On drones he said that the department is working with the police to catch and convict criminals using drones to smuggle contraband into prisons, and have also established a new team of prison and police officers to directly tackle the threat posed by drones. On mobile phones: “We are working with mobile network operators to tackle illicit use of phones. We have now fitted out every single prison across the estate with hand-held mobile phone detectors and detection poles to step up the detection of illegal phones on the landings. More than 150 mobile phones have been cut off since the introduction of new powers through the Serious Crime Act.”

He confirmed that “We are continuing to transform our prison estate to close old and dilapidated prisons and create up to 10,000 new places through a £1.3 billion investment.”

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, Peter Clarke, HM chief inspector of prisons, said the bill had enjoyed broad parliamentary support and had made real progress. Its absence from the Queen’s speech was a ’missed opportunity’, Clarke said, adding: “We will continue to report the harsh reality of what we find in our prisons – all too many of which are dangerous for prisoners and staff alike.”

And Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “The decision puts even more pressure on the new justice secretary to find ways to stop our chronic overuse of prison so that this hardest pressed of public services can start to repair the damage his predecessors have inflicted upon it.”

The full text of the justice secretary’s letter can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prison-reform-open-letter-from-the-justice-secretary

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Deport first, appeal later

This week the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s system for deporting foreign criminals before they have had a chance to appeal breaches their human rights. In a landmark case concerning two foreign national criminals, the court ruled that having to appeal from abroad denied the men an effective appeal.

‘Deport first, appeal later’ was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014. It removes a foreign criminal’s right to appeal in the UK unless they can show a ‘real risk of serious irreversible harm’ if they are deported to their country of origin. It was designed to reduce the number of offenders fighting deportation by using human rights grounds, especially the right to a private and family life. More than 1,100 foreign criminals have been removed from Britain under the system. It was a Conservative manifesto pledge.

The ruling, handed down by the deputy president of the supreme court, Lady Hale, and four other justices, said the system breached foreign criminals’ human right to an appeal as their ability to present their case from abroad was likely to be obstructed in a number of ways.

The case involved two men convicted of drug offences who had both served prison sentences. In both cases the home secretary (then Theresa May) issued certificates that their human rights claims were “clearly unfounded” under 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. This had the effect of ensuring that they could only appeal against their deportation after they had returned to Kenya and Jamaica.

The court ruling says that the financial and legal barriers to the men giving their evidence live on screen are almost insurmountable. The justices say the MoJ’s failure to provide facilities abroad to enable them to give evidence means they have been deported without any human rights-compliant system in place that enables them to conduct their appeal.

Leading counsel for one of the appellants said the ruling would halt the use of the power in the deportation of foreign national criminals. “The supreme court’s judgment will very heavily limit, if not entirely curtail, the home secretary’s use of the controversial ‘deport first, appeal later’ power for ‘foreign criminals’ who wish to challenge deportation decisions on the basis that deportation will infringe the right to family or private life. The court has made clear its disapproval of the routine use of such a power,” he said.

Clive Coleman, BBC legal affairs correspondent, writes that “the ruling is a hammer blow to the Home Office. Appeals will have to be ‘effective’ and that will often mean that they have to be conducted with the appellant in the UK. ‘Deport first, appeal later’ is damaged.

“Since December, in what amounts to a ‘remove first, appeal later’ policy, the process for certifying removal before appeal has been extended to other cases such as those brought by people who are not convicted criminals, but have overstayed their leave to remain here.” He adds that the decision “is likely to have significant implications for both the deportation of foreign offenders and the removal of others who are in the UK unlawfully.”

For the government, Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s judgment and are carefully considering the implications.”

Saira Grant, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, welcomed the ruling and said: “The Supreme Court has accepted, as we warned from the beginning, that it is almost impossible to appeal from abroad. They have also upheld the rule of law by making it clear that the Home Secretary cannot simply avoid scrutiny by removing from the UK anybody who disagrees with her decision.“

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New Lord Chancellor

In the past two years we have been privileged to serve four holders of the post of Lord Chancellor – Chris Grayling, Michael Gove, Lyn Truss and now, David Lidington.

All four have one thing in common. None is legally qualified.

The demotion of Lyn Truss to Chief Secretary to the Treasury stands out as the only senior casualty in the mini reshuffle following the general election. She has paid the price of the fury caused by her lacklustre defence of a judiciary dubbed ’Enemies of the People’ by the right-wing press over the Article 50 case.

David Lidington was elected Member of Parliament for Aylesbury in 1992 and has held a number of positions including Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2003 to 2007 and Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010
He served as Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) from May 2010 until July 2016, the longest-serving Europe Minister in British history. He was Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council from July 2016 to June 2017. He was a staunch member of the Remain campaign.

Lidington has generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights. In May last year he voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act 1998. He has also consistently voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance to end their life. He has generally voted against gay rights and voted against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Lidington has also consistently voted in favour of restricting the scope of legal aid, and for allowing national security-sensitive evidence to be put before courts in secret sessions.

His voting record also shows support for stronger enforcement of immigration rules and mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities.

Commenting on Sunday Lidington said: “Democracy and freedom are built on the rule of law, and are protected by a strong and independent judiciary. I look forward to taking my Oath as Lord Chancellor, and to working with the Lord Chief Justice and his fellow judges in the months ahead, to ensure that justice is fairly administered and robustly defended.”

In May 2009, the Daily Telegraph revealed Lidington had claimed nearly £1,300 for his dry cleaning and had also claimed for toothpaste, shower gel, body spray and vitamin supplements on his second home allowance. He decided to repay the claims for the toiletries, saying: “I accept that many people would see them as over-generous.” He was also criticised by local newspaper the Bucks Herald for claiming £115,891 in expenses in one year, almost double his salary.

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Late night courts

Last month HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announced that it was planning to test late night courts this month in an effort to understand how to make the system more flexible for all users.

The pilot is planned to take place in six courts over six months. Under the scheme, Crown courts at Newcastle and Blackfriars will be open until 6pm, civil courts in Brentford and Manchester until 7pm and magistrates’ courts in Sheffield and Highbury, London, until 8.30pm.

A spokesperson for HMCTS was reported as saying: “We are exploring flexible operating hours in six pilot courts to test how we can improve access to justice for everyone by making the service more convenient for working people. These pilots will help us understand how flexible hours affect all court users and will be fully evaluated before any decision is taken on rollout.”

Then came the announcement of a general election and the trial was postponed. It is a fair bet that the majority of the legal profession hope that the postponement is permanent.

The Law Society pointed out that the pilot will rely on the assistance of lawyers who have already been subject to public funding cuts and a flood of civil justice reforms in recent weeks, and warned that any proposal would require robust evaluation to assess the impact.

The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) said that the announcement of the pilot scheme had been met with anger by criminal practitioners, saying that the absence of defence practitioners from the planning group “is staggering when you consider that they are essential to the smooth running of the justice system. To exclude the very people who ensure that defendants are properly represented and that justice is done is most concerning.”

The CLSA go on to say: “The prison service is currently in crisis and will be faced with dealing with prisoners having to be conveyed and booked into the prisons of an evening. The probation service will need to make officers available at extra cost as will HMCTS, the Crown Prosecution Service, mental health services and social services. Access to justice will be restricted as the “project” has seemingly failed to consider how legal representation will be made available.”

A leading chambers, Garden Court North Chambers has warned the government that remaining goodwill from barristers is running at ‘dangerously low levels.’ In a statement released this month the Manchester set condemns the idea and warns that ministers should no longer rely on lawyers to toe the line.

The Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said the scheme is “misconceived, impractical, an inefficient use of time and inimical to anyone with care responsibilities.” Such schemes have been trialled before and none ended well. He went on to say that the scheme will mean barristers having to work in court far later than they presently do with a serious knock on effect on their ability to prepare that evening for the next day’s cases.

The view of the CBA is that the scheme threatens to have a serious impact on the family lives of barristers who already work long hours. Many have direct childcare responsibilities which make working until 7pm or later in court completely impractical. As the bulk of childcare falls on the shoulders of women lawyers this scheme is likely to be discriminatory.

The future of this proposal is now dependent on who becomes lord chancellor. The record of recent incumbents of that post does not bode well.

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Election manifestoes

Where there is an election there are manifestoes, and both the Law Society and the Bar Council have been quick off the mark.

The Law Society has called on the next government to put access to justice at the heart of Brexit Britain. Society president Robert Bourns said: “Early legal advice prevents difficult societal and personal situations escalating. So if you’ve a problem with housing, how immeasurably better it is to solve that before you and your family become homeless – which is also likely to cost the taxpayer far more than the initial legal advice.”

On human rights, the Society wants to retain the Human Rights Act, but says that if it is replaced by a British Bill of Rights this must protect and enhance rights currently enshrined in UK law.

Regarding Brexit, the Society calls for negotiation of reciprocal rights of practice, audience and legal professional privilege for UK solicitors across the EU and in its courts. The Law Society’s calls include:

  • Reinstate legal aid for early advice, particularly in housing and family law.
  • Negotiate access for UK lawyers to practice law across the EU, base themselves in the EU, and have rights of audience and legal professional privilege in EU courts.
  • Ensure civil justice co-operation is maintained with the EU in the interest of consumers, families and businesses.
  • Combat modern slavery by enforcing the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and allocating the necessary resources to protect victims.
  • Scrap the current employment tribunal fee system.

Echoing the Law Society’s manifesto, the Bar Council says the government must review the consequences of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which greatly cut back the scope of legal aid. “The loss of nearly £1bn legal aid support has effectively disenfranchised a whole sector of society from obtaining access to justice. Government should reintroduce legal aid to assist vulnerable citizens who are currently left to fend for themselves…Justice is not a commodity and should never be a luxury available only to those who can afford to pay for it. Justice is not like any other public service.”

In a thinly veiled attack on Liz Truss, the Council stresses that the next lord chancellor must be someone whose “experience is combined with the requisite authority among ministerial colleagues to defend the independence of the judiciary.”

On Brexit, the Bar manifesto warns that: “Unless a strategic plan for the future of our legal services is devised and delivered, our exit from the EU will damage the international market value of the legal services sector, and undermine acquired rights and protections for our citizens and for our environment.” In exiting the EU, the government must develop a strategy for the legal services sector which recognises the value that Britain’s legal services contributes.

The Bar Council calls on the government to provide appropriate funding which recognises the value of the judiciary and those who work for the administration of justice so that standards of excellence can be achieved; and invest in infrastructure by making proper investment in the infrastructure of justice.

In addition, the government must remedy poor decision-making by those in authority who deal with vulnerable members of society. “For example, approximately half of those detained in immigration detention centres ought not to be there as is demonstrated by charities which provide legal assistance to those who cannot use lawyers.”

The Bar Council’s manifesto ‘The Value of Justice’ can be found at: http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/566731/manifesto_for_justicefinal.pdf

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So who is next?

No tears were shed when, following the 2015 election, Chris Grayling was removed from the role of lord chancellor. There were nevertheless raised eyebrows when his successor was announced – Michael Gove, another unqualified incumbent.

But many fears were allayed when he set about righting the mean-minded Grayling rulings, such as the severe restriction of reading material in prisons. He also promised a review of ongoing criminal legal aid reforms and said there were no plans for further cuts on top of those already announced.

Speaking of the “dangerous inequality at the heart of our system” he said: “There are two nations in our justice system at present. On the one hand, the wealthy, international class who can, for example, choose to settle cases in London with the gold standard of British justice. And then everyone else, who has to put up with a creaking, outdated system to see justice done in their own lives.” He also grasped the nettle of prison overcrowding with far reaching proposals for ‘new prisons for old.’

On civil justice he said: “The current system adds to stress at times of need, and restricts access to high quality resolution of disputes by simply being too complex, too bureaucratic and too slow.”

Then came the upheaval following the referendum, with the change of prime minister and the ministerial reshuffle which consigned Gove to the wilderness. His replacement, Liz Truss, completed a hat trick of non legally qualified lord chancellors.

She set out her views on sentencing and the prison population in an address to the Centre for Social Justice. She said that the problems boil down to four distinct areas: sentences are too long; prisons are too overcrowded to work; the wrong people are in prison; and the management of the prison population at the moment isn’t good enough.

She identified the biggest driver for prison growth in the last twenty years as the exposure, pursuit and punishment of sexual offences and crimes of violence, and a toughening up of sentences for these crimes.

In family courts “I will end the appalling practice of domestic abuse victims being cross-examined by their attacker” she said. She herself took flak from the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who launched a forthright attack for her failure last year to defend judges who were branded “enemies of the people.”

Introducing the Prisons and Courts bill, she said: “I want our prisons to be places of discipline, hard work, and self-improvement, where staff are empowered to get people off drugs, improve their English and maths to get a job on release,” she said.

The bill hopes to pave the way for the biggest overhaul of prisons in a generation and the delivery of a first class court system. Protection of victims and vulnerable witnesses in the courts, along with a commitment to reform offenders in prison, are laid out in law for the first time. The bill will provide a better working environment for judges, with modern court facilities and better IT that will help manage cases more efficiently.

Across the country more than 2,000 new senior positions are being created for experienced prison officers on promotion. She concluded: “The answer to overcrowding is not to cut prisoner numbers in half. It is to make sure we have the right resources, the right workforce, the right buildings and the right regimes to reform offenders and turn their lives around (then) we will see our society become safer and our prison population will reduce.”

Now we have another hiatus caused by the election. How many of the enlightened proposals will survive? I will leave the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, to spell out the number of extra police officers required and the cost thereof.

Photo courtesy of mrgarethm on flickr

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Legal aid for prisoners

The government has lost an important battle in the court of appeal over access to legal aid. Denying prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so they can effectively challenge the conditions under which they are held could be illegal, the court has ruled.

In R (Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service) v the Lord Chancellor, the court of appeal judges – Lord Justice Leveson, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lady Justice Sharp – considered five areas of prison law where the Ministry of Justice removed criminal legal aid eligibility in December 2013. Read the full story

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The launch of the Great Repeal Bill

In her letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, triggering Article 50, the Prime Minister said that the Government “would bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses.”

Unveiling the government’s white paper on the “great repeal bill”, the Brexit secretary David Davis told MPs that as well as transposing aspects of EU legislation into UK law, the bill would create a new power to “correct the statute book.”

The Great Repeal Bill White Paper sets out the government’s proposals for ensuring a functioning statute book once the UK has left the European Union. It aims to provide the detail about the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, how EU law will be converted into UK law, and how corrections will be made to the statute book.

Davis said: “Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses – as will the devolved legislatures, where they have power to do so,” he said. The bill will provide a power to correct the statute book where necessary to resolve the problems which will occur as a consequence of leaving the EU.

Davis added that the new powers would be temporary. “I can confirm this power will be time-limited. And parliament will need to be satisfied that the procedures in the bill for making and approving the secondary legislation are appropriate. Given the scale of the changes that will be necessary and the finite amount of time available to make them, there is a balance to be struck between the importance of scrutiny and correcting the statute book in time.”

All this is a very formidable task. The ‘Gazette’ quotes legal information specialist Thomson Reuters saying that a total of 52,741 laws have been introduced in the UK as a result of EU legislation since 1990. Thinktank the Institute for Government has reported that up to 15 new parliamentary bills will be required. As each Queen’s speech introduces an average of 20 new bills, this will leave very little space in the parliamentary calendar for non-Brexit related legislation.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said the proposed bill gave sweeping powers to the executive to change regulations. “Sweeping, because it proposes a power to use a delegated legislation to correct and thus change primary legislation, and also devolved legislation. Sweeping because of the sheer scale of the exercise.”

There are indications of a very bumpy road ahead. Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, warned that the government will face a difficult balancing act to get the legislation right, given that it wanted to ensure UK laws were compatible with EU rules to make negotiating a trade deal easier.

The SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said: “It strikes me that the government has pushed the big red button marked Brexit with their fingers crossed and very little idea of what comes next.”

And BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg’s view of the Prime Minister is that “On paper her position looks as unpalatable as any prime minister’s in modern times. A negotiation against 27 other countries, some of whom want to make the UK pay. A deal of mind-bending complexity beckons. A wafer thin majority in Parliament. The Scottish government intent on pushing for a vote to break up the other union.

All this, knowing that one false move could wreak havoc on the economy or unleash demons inside her own party.”

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Extended court sittings

A new pilot scheme from HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will introduce extra sittings at civil, crown, and magistrates’ courts to increase the number of cases seen each day.

The pilots are expected to begin in May, in six courts over six months. The six pilot courts are: Newcastle and Blackfriars Crown court; Sheffield and Highbury Corner magistrates’ court; and Brentford County Court and Manchester Civil Justice Centre. The plans will see the crown court sit until 18:00, civil courts until 19:00, and magistrates until 20:30.

The ‘Gazette’ reports that a spokesperson for HMTCS said: “We are exploring flexible operating hours in six pilot courts to test how we can improve access to justice for everyone by making the service more convenient for working people. These pilots will help us understand how flexible hours affect all court users and will be fully evaluated before any decision is taken on rollout.”

The HMCTS spokesperson said flexible operating hours are just one aspect of the government’s plans to transform the justice system, which include increased use of virtual hearings. “We are investing over £1bn to reform our courts to deliver swifter justice, that is modern, more accessible and better meets the needs of all court users. We are exploring flexible operating hours in six pilot courts to test how we can improve access to justice for everyone by making the service more convenient for working people,” the spokesperson said.

The Bar Council has urged HMCTS to ensure that the impact on parents, and women in particular, is built into the evaluation criteria used to test the success of the pilots.

Quoted in ‘Solicitors Journal’, the chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, said the biggest impact of these changes will fall on women barristers. “These arrangements will make it almost impossible for parents with childcare responsibilities to predict if they can make the school run or to know when they will be able to pick children up from the child-minders,” he said.

He added: “Childcare responsibilities still fall disproportionately to women, many of whom do not return to the profession after having children. It is hard to see how these plans sit with the government’s commitment to improving diversity in the profession and the judiciary. The profession and the judiciary must reflect the communities they serve. We need measures that will help women stay in the profession, rather than make it even more difficult to be a mother and a barrister at the same time.”

Richard Miller, head of justice at the Law Society, said that previous experiments did not find sufficient benefits. “An effective pilot would have to maintain a clear focus on impact – whether on members of the public using the court service or professionals providing advice and representation. This includes advising people making or defending civil claims, those involved in criminal proceedings or family court services,” he said.

He added: “We welcome the assurance this pilot will be subject to a robust evaluation before any decision is taken to roll out the scheme. We look forward to getting more detail from HMCTS – both about the pilot and about how they will evaluate it.”

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