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Lawyers enter new era of KCs and Rex v. criminal prosecutions

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Move from QC to KC effective immediately

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Law firms and members of the legal profession have been paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who died on 8 September at the age 96.

Her death marks an important change to legal formalities.

The Crown Office has advised that the title of Queen’s Counsel (QC) be changed to King’s Counsel (KC) with immediate effect. Barristers who have taken silk have accordingly changed their titles on social media and elsewhere. John Machell, a silk at Serle Court, wrote: “just amended my email footer from QC to KC. A mundane and unimportant task in itself, but poignant and affecting for me personally.”

Criminal prosecutions, cited as ‘R v Smith’, will now stand for Rex instead of Regina, whilst the Queen’s Bench Division will be renamed the King’s Bench Division. The first case to be called into court in the name of The King since 1952 took place at the Old Bailey this morning.

There will be a seven-day mourning period during which, according to a 2017 blog by the former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Henry Brook, judges and KCs were traditionally expected to don mourning bands and weepers, whilst juniors only need to wear mourning bands.

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The blog explains that this was last observed in court in 1991 following the death of King Olaf V of Norway. However, Roddy Dunlop KC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has pointed out that weepers are not required to be worn, following a direction issued by Her Majesty the Queen last year on the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. He added: “We may not wear weepers any more, but we shall mourn her nonetheless.”

The Criminal Bar Association is also reported to have cancelled its planned protests next week outside courts and at Parliament as a mark respect. The indefinite, uninterrupted strike by criminal barristers, however, will continue throughout the mourning period.

Several lawyers have recounted personal experiences with the late Queen. Allen & Overy lawyer and founder of GROW mentoring, Justin Farrance shared this:

“I rarely speak about my role working as part of The Royal Household, walking through the corridors of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

One thing I always noticed was that regardless of whether it was a President, Prime Minister or celebrity standing in the room, when Her Majesty walked through the door, everyone’s attention turned and was captivated by her presence and constant desire to serve, mine included. A leader like no other until the very end. 🙏”

Her Honour Judge Melissa Clarke recounts:

“When HM Queen came to open the Rolls Building, she was ushered into a room in which were waiting all the judges. She looked at the ermine-clad serried ranks of Chancery judges, smiled, and said crisply “Where are the women?”.

A look of panic crossed multiple faces, until someone saw three female chancery-specialist district judges in a dark corner. “There they are!” he shouted. So the Queen went to talk to them. What a woman.”

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44 Comments

Anon

Great article. Thanks.

Blob

Why is Justin Farrance being quoted in the same article as QCs and judges?

Anon

KCs…

Blob

Sorry.

Why is Justin Farrance being quoted in the same article as KCs and judges?

cringe overload

Because he’s a legal influencer didn’t you get the memo 😶

lmao

because we always need to hear the opinions of white men from middle class backgrounds

what would we do without it

SourLemon

It’s a small change of just 1 letter, but what it signifies is much harder to put in letters and words.
Let’s see what happens next..

Archibald Pomp O'City

“It’s a small change of just 1 letter, but what it signifies is much harder to put in letters and words. Let’s see what happens next..”

How is it harder to put in letters and words? Are you confusing the explanation for what happens when a Queen is replaced by a King, in both real life and the corresponding legal title, with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Or perhaps Bohm’s hidden variable theory? Is the change from “Queen’s” to “King’s”, following the replacement of a Queen by a King, so monstrously nuanced that instead of explaining it, we must throw our hands into the air in a gesture of helpless bewilderment and wait impotently to see what happens next?

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one!

Alan

So incredibly disrespectful. Even for the death of our Queen, those attention seekers can’t stop their pointless strike? I’m sure whatever sympathy anyone had left will evaporate now.

Strike? Nah - Actually Gotta Pay My Bills

It’s not a pointless strike – it will make all those in the UK who rely on free school meals and housing benefit know that criminal barristers really are lying when they claim that they too live in ‘poverty’.

Anon

And when said people entitled to legal aid can’t get representation because there is no longer a criminal bar because too few juniors make it through the first years of practice because barristers are not funded properly and adequately, tell that to them then.

How many professions will have a change in title and day to day workings (Regina to Rex)? They are closely tied to the monarchy. They recognize the significance of the death of the Queen.

They are not protesting and making public demonstrations as planned because they are not, as you say, “attention seekers”. Instead, the profession wants to pay its respect to the Queen, despite the sheer lack of general media attention the barrister strike is getting because of the number of more public/personable professions striking at the same time, as well as all the other crises happening.

Alan

Boo-hoo, I’m on the floor crying and screaming but no one’s looking at me. If they care so much about our Queen why don’t they show it? She was an example of the stiff upper lip, make do and mend generation they detest, that’s why.

Anon

Alan, I think you are actually rolling around on the floor and crying for attention. You post on this site frequently, spreading insults aimed at undermining the legal profession.

They have shown a “stiff upper lip” for years enduring the cuts to legal aid and criminal justice system at large, and by accepting returns from other barristers. There is no professional obligation for a barrister to accept such work, but they have traditionally done so as a gesture of goodwill to prop up the system. There is only so much abuse person and a profession can take before it cracks. There is no more goodwill left.

They do show their care for the Queen, they even have mourning garments to wear in court. I do not see most workers change their dress for work to mark the passing of the Queen. They could have gone ahead with the public protests and taking up news coverage, but they chose not to out of respect.

This strike is aimed at stopping a profession from dying because juniors cannot survive on remuneration on offer to them for the responsibility and burdens placed upon them. I would argue that criminal barristers are showing their respect to the Queen by continuing the strike with the ultimate aim of ensuring HRH’s subjects will get a fair trial and a competent barrister if they find themselves in such a position. It is a silent defiance in the face of government incompetence and systematic choking of a public system that is enshrined as a right in our law.

Archibald Pomp O'City

“despite the sheer lack of general media attention the barrister strike is getting because of the number of more public/personable professions striking at the same time”

Sadly, that isn’t the reason the barristers’ strike isn’t wallpapered across the tabloids. The reason is that most ordinary Joes aren’t inclined to cry a tear about the tough career development challenges that face people who enter one of the fustiest, most archaic, impenetrable and old-fashioned professions on the planet. It’s an empathy barrier. How many people could really put themselves into a barrister’s shoes and genuinely believe that they are impoverished?

Anon

I do believe it to be part of the reason, and I think we both agree that it is a lack of empathy, just from different angles. People do not come into regular contact with the profession and it is still in its infancy of improving diversity.

I was trying to convey the lack of empathy through the phrase “public/personable professions”. People are much more empathetic to or at least aware of doctors, nurses, teachers, railway workers, post office workers etc. because they are much more prominent in the lives of ordinary folk and are (mostly) held in high esteem.

Criminal barristers on the other hand have ironically been vilified as money grabbing and defenders of only the vilest in society. They are often wrongly lumped together with higher paid barristers (corporate for example) who are paid privately and/or by the hour, and people tend to catastrophise and dramatize the work of a criminal barrister. Criminal barristers obviously do get private work come in, but much of an under 5 year call barrister’s work comes in through legal aid cases.

I agree that it is perceived at large as a stuffy profession that is relatively small in comparison to many other professions in the UK. It ends up being misunderstood and fantasised. The profession will further regress into archaic impenetrability if strikes do not work out and only those with the support network around them being able to join the criminal bar, but why would they join the criminal bar if they could get 10x the pay as a corporate barrister?

The concern is that people won’t know what they have until it is gone and they are either in need of a good barrister themselves or they are facing the effects of a broken criminal justice system (dangerous criminals being released due to custody time limit expirations, or innocent people being detained waiting months/years to be dealt with by an ever shrinking pool of barristers and judges), by which point they will be kicking themselves.

Anon

To add to the comment, who wants to admit they have spent £40,000+ on education and that they are earning less than minimum wage? They basically do not stay in the criminal justice system and if they do, they need significant support or borrowing in the first few years and swallowed pride.

Barristers are smart and adaptable to other careers, so a brain drain and mass exodus from the younger and more junior barristers has occurred. An inverted pyramid is developing that will topple the criminal justice system if not addressed properly and soon.

The current fee increase proposals have several flaws that mean that there will be a continued brain drain on the profession. Firstly, the fee increase does not negate the years of cuts the profession has seen. Two, they do not negate the inflationary pressures we are facing since they were proposed last year before this crisis. Three, the increased fees benefits will not be felt for years as they only apply to new cases which take years to conclude and be billed. Lastly, the prices would not be competitive with other options open to barristers like corporate, family or civil law so the drain continues. That does not even include all of the problems facing the criminal justice system.

Instead of imagining the poor barrister with holes in their shoes and dirt on their face, imagine the empty chair where a barrister should be but isn’t because the profession could not compete and attract the talent it needed to provide the basic right of a fair trial to all in this country.

Anonimo

‘ Instead of imagining the poor barrister with holes in their shoes and dirt on their face, imagine the empty chair where a barrister should be but isn’t ’

What ‘brain drain’? There’s over 300 applicants for EACH pupillage spot at some criminal chambers. Law is one of the most popular degrees for undergraduate study in the UK. Can you think of any other profession that attracts that many people wanting to do the job????

This catastrophising of a barren world in which there’s no lawyers left to represent people because they’ve been treated so harshly is a fantasy.

Take every one of their complaints and fact-check them. They provide no statistics as to exactly how many junior criminal barristers have quit the Bar each year, they omit how many applicants apply for each tenancy and pupillage spot and they forget to mention how much money barristers make outside of fixed court fees for work on lucrative public inquiries like Grenfell.

It might have worked in the C19th – the blind deference to one’s more ‘educated betters’, but today in a world where we can fact-check, it becomes very easy to understand why there’s little to no media attention or public support for the strike. They just don’t deserve it.

Anon

Dominic Raab, is that you? Or is it Alan again?

I am afraid you are the one misleading anyone reading this comments section with you rather odd superiority complex. You yourself provide inaccurate and vague stats, provide no logical justification for your arguements, and jump between points irrelevant to the issues facing junior barristers and the criminal bar at large.

“What brain drain?”

22% of junior criminal barristers have left since 2016 and 18% of criminal barristers want to leave the profession according to Criminal Bar Association who represent criminal barristers. This will lead to fewer judges to preside over future trials, fewer future KCs to deal with complex cases, fewer barristers able to train the next generation and more pressure on those who remain to deal with an ever growing backlog. The pressure all of this will create a feedback loop. Please start of this paragraph again for details.

“Law is one of the most popular degrees in the country”.

Medicine is equally if not more popular and there is still a shortage of doctors. Law is popular but not all law students go on to be barristers, let alone criminal barristers. Most become solicitors, of whom criminal solicitors are also overworked and unable and unqualified to take on the extra burden of courtroom work. Many law students also apply to become barristers in other areas of law. Some are foreign students who take their skills out of the country altogether. And then there are others who just don’t finish the course or don’t complete it to a high enough standard, in part because there is a whole other issue that many students are missold the dream of working in law and pursue it through ignorance and fantasy. Criminal law is an incredibly stressful job with huge amounts of responsibility, dealing with at times some of the nastiest people in society or the traumas that their victims have suffered, all for less than minimum wage for the first 3 years. Criminal law requires applicants to be of the highest calibre in reasoning and advocacy, as well as the resolve to stay in the profession. Many cannot take that pressure, financially and emotionally and doubly so when in combination. Make similar arguements about medicine and it is somehow justifiable, but for law it is not, why?

“There’s over 300 applicants for EACH pupillage spot at some criminal chambers.”

Which criminal chambers and pupillages? I agree that it is competitive but you speak of at best extremes and at worst lies and i cannot find anything to suggest this figure online. Not all pupillages are for criminal practice either and cover several areas of law i should add.

You could quote that 300:1 figure about a position in a warehouse. Such competition is an imbalance supply and demand. Barristers can maximum train 2 pupils at a time on 6 month rotation if they are qualified to, as well as carry out their own practice. Fewer practicing criminal barristers means fewer are able to take on pupils which means higher competition. The high number of applicants is dealt with in the above point in terms of being missold and less qualified leading a highly competitive environment. There will always be pupillages more popular than others, so like i said you are either focussing on the extreme or at worst lying about these statisitics without specifying the chambers and pupillages.

“This catastrophising of a barren world in which there’s no lawyers left to represent people because they’ve been treated so harshly is a fantasy.”

I never said no lawyers, i just said that we are heading to a world where the poorest will not see justice done as there are no legal aid criminal barristers to represent them. It is a matter of logic and looking at the statistics of those who have already left as outlined in point 1 above.

Legal aid barristers have and will continue to move partially or completely into other areas of law, or move out of law altogether at their current rate of pay and stress. The backlog of cases will grow and the poorest who are entitled to legal aid will not see justice done, but private cases will continue, creating or you may argue exacerbating a two tier society. Solicitor firms have already been refusing legal aid work as it is unecomonical, and this feeds through to the barristers who do not see the work come in.

I have seen this among 4 friends and acquaintances who have been called to the bar and got criminal pupillages in the last 3 to 4 years moving out completely or diversifying their criminal practice. They are all smart and competent, why should they continue to suffer poor remuneration for so much stress put upon them when they can earn more elsewhere for the same stress or less with the qualifications they have?

“They [I] forget to mention how much money barristers make outside of fixed court fees for work on lucrative public inquiries like Grenfell.”

You distract from the issue of junior barristers’ pay leading to their walking out from the criminal bar and show that you forget the criminal bar is more than what you see on television.

High profile public inquiry work is handled by highly experienced barristers who benefited from and practiced in a properly funded criminal justice and legal aid system. Of course they make significant sums, they highly experienced and are dealing issues of great importance in these public enquiries.

What part of junior barristers making less than minimum wage are you not understanding? That is the issue here. You are strawmanning the argument because you cannot reconcile that barristers in their first years of practice are not paid adequately and in a timely manner with your irrational single mindedness that barristers are ironically public enemy number one. They are not. They ensure we have proper representation, that we have the right to a fair trial, that criminals are punished properly and victims see justice done. They have seen real income declines of 28% since 2006, how can you expect anyone to accept such conditions when they deal with the lives of individuals in our society?

Your vigilante tone and self procalimed heroism in your final two paragraphs is misguided. You are no one’s hero. You mislead and distract from the actual issues at hand that will lead to the collapse of a structural pillar in our society. You should be ashamed of yourself. I invite people to fact check what i have said for themselves as you suggest and see what an ignorant fool you are.

Geronimo, Anonimo's smarter and better looking twin

You go be a criminal barrister then Anonimo, see if you can handle the training, the clients, the lack of payments for months, the paltry pay after expenses and taxes, the lack of employment benefits like holiday and sick pay, and the general hostility and thanklessness from people like yourself. Show us oh wise one how you will make it three years on the job.

Anonimo

FFS, why does the Bar pretend it’s the only self-employed profession in the UK????

There are literally millions of self-employed people in the UK who have to organise their own sick pay, pension and child-care. Anyone working as a wedding planner/interior designer/tutor also waits months to be paid, puts up with pushy clients and is also taxed by the government. These aren’t crosses only criminal barristers have to bear, but for whatever reason, they certainly seem to cry the most about them???

There are self-employed people who suffered greatly in the pandemic, who missed out on government help and who too feel over-worked an under appreciated. They too attended university, have debts and aren’t ‘stupid’ or ‘fools’, even if barristers want to call them that.

Why do criminal barristers believe that their anxieties are somehow more important and greater than other self-employed people? Then they complain about organising their own pensions & sick pay (as if they had no idea beforehand that this is what self-employment involves?) but other self-employed adults somehow manage it?

Just incredible behaviour.

Anon

You divert Anonimo and show yourself up again. Let the entire population go on strike, I never said that they didn’t deserve better. I also called you the ignorant fool, not the population and self employed at large.

All of those professions you list get to charge what they want and compete for work. Legal aid barristers do not get to set their rates and are forced to take on work through the cab rank rule regardless of pay and still have to compete for it. Other professions can demand deposits and refuse completion of work if the contract is not fulfilled or chase debtors in court. Barristers can only sue for private cases, not legal aid. As said before, finally billing the legal aid agency can take years because they pay upon completing which is only being exacerbated by the backlog with cases being listed months and years later now, whilst bad solicitors withhold the payments and hold barristers to ransom with the threat of withholding future work but can only be reported to the LAA. That is the key difference.

I do think the self employed generally are screwed over compared to employed professions, but other self employed professions enjoy some leniencies that legal aid barristers do not, mainly around payment demands. Barristers who went into the pandemic with less than three years of tax returns got pittance from any aid schemes and therein lies the problem that the newer qualified barristers cannot survive and are moving away from criminal practice.

“Pushy clients” Try fraudsters, sex offenders, and robbers and general degenerates of society. Criminal barristers have to sit face to face with these people and have security at the door for their protection, that is how pleasant the job is, and do they ever thank them for their time or give a glowing review? No, because that is the nature of the job and clientele.

I myself am not a barrister or work in the legal profession, and am self employed. I am closely linked to the criminal bar through my wife. I have seen what she has been through, what our friends have been through, and the complete ignorance of people like you who push an agenda of screw the barristers because you have so little empathy and spew irrational hatred. She is moving out of legal aid practice and is enjoying not having to deal with the horrors in our society, so when are you going to become a legal aid barrister Anonimo?

Anon

I should also add that the professions you mention, and very few in general, hold such responsibility for the lives of other people. Criminal barristers are on a par to doctors in terms of determining human outcomes. A hairdresser, tutor or interior designer, though perfectly respectable professions themselves serving a need in society, do not carry such a burden as to determining a person’s liberty or health outcomes. Would you want an overworked, stressed out and underpaid doctor to perform surgery on you? I doubt it, so don’t think you would want a barrister in such a state either.

I should update a statement as I didn’t actually finish it:

I have seen what my wife has been through, what our friends have been through, and the complete ignorance of people like you who push an agenda of screw the barristers because you have so little empathy and spew irrational hatred pushes me to continue fighting the legal aid lawyers corner and expose the absolute intolerance of people like you.

Anonimo

Anon, so your partner isn’t quitting the Bar after all then??? What about your claim that there wouldn’t be any barristers left in the future to take on criminal cases because everyone is so ‘hateful’? More hyperbole and catastrophising designed to make the public scared, when this couldn’t be further from the truth of the real popularity of applicants to the profession.

Many self-employed business owners also work with horrible people for clients. Again, I have no idea why it comes as a surprise to criminal barristers that criminals may not have had the safe, middle class lives most criminal barristers have had. Comes with the job description that you have to work with criminals, so why complain about this???

What I don’t like is when members of a profession try to use their position to present a narrative that just isn’t aligned with the truth – one where criminal barristers suffer ‘poverty’ or have no ways of making money outside of legal aid (there were criminal barristers of 10 years call on the Grenfell inquiry, not just public law KCs – and let’s not forget the large number of criminal barristers who undertake private client/direct access work).

If you are going to spend time seeking attention and sympathy for a cause by striking and telling the public to fend for themselves, you are likely to have ‘your truth’ dissected by the public.

Anon

Do you even read what I write or argue? Just saying I am exaggerating without pointing out where with evidence or well-reasoned argument only shows your perceptions of self-grandeur, that your word is gospel. I have explained to you already why popularity of law is not the issue here and how the profession is crumbling, yet you do not or cannot counter that argument.

“What I don’t like is when members of a profession try to use their position to present a narrative that just isn’t aligned with the truth” and “If you are going to spend time seeking attention and sympathy for a cause by striking and telling the public to fend for themselves, you are likely to have ‘your truth’ dissected by the public.”

And your single-minded perception of events is truth? Just because you can only imagine more experienced barristers who have built up a practice and basically survive on multiple income streams from multiple cases worked on across the years does not mean that you are right to say that no barristers are in poverty. Read this comment chain, I explain perfectly well why poor remuneration, debt and yes poverty are forcing newer criminal barristers away from the legal aid criminal practice because crime doesn’t pay. I have seen people leave because of the pay and stress; I do not need imagination unlike you.

The Grenfell Tower inquiry is a civil law case and civil legal aid funded, whilst legal aid cuts contributed to the Grenfell Tower disaster in the first place because residents could not afford barristers to take their landlords to court over safety concerns. Criminal barristers can support lead public/civil law barristers given the scale of the inquest since they possess the necessary skills to aid the inquiry this way, but they will have been paid through civil legal aid which is not part of the strike action. If any of the work was completed through criminal legal aid, it would be subject to set fees as per the rest of the criminal legal aid system, so your points referring to Grenfell Tower barristers being well paid are redundant because they have been paid through a different system.

Diversifying is equivalent to leaving the criminal bar and legal aid work. If all criminal barristers’ sole practice was criminal legal aid and they are forced to diversify to survive and spend 25% of their time on other areas of law or privately paid work, it would be equivalent to losing 20% of the criminal legal aid practice. So, I’m afraid your Aha moment falls quite flat. My wife is only acting in her best interest, as are other criminal barristers, as is their prerogative. Their collective actions are equivalent to losing barristers to represent to poorer ends of society. This leads, as discussed above, to greater pressure on those who remain, and a spiral of workloads as criminal barristers face ever mounting pressures, whilst the backlog – already at over 450,000 across the magistrate and crown courts – exponentially increases, creating a two-tier society where poorer do not see justice done.

You do know how money and pay works, right? The more unpalatable the job, the more it needs to pay to attract and retain people. People want to have a criminal practice but cannot reconcile the stress with the pay. To say that they knew what they signed up for implies a sort of omniscience that no one can possess. Any job can give you money. Criminal barristers may want the social prestige, the fun or thrill of winning an argument or seeing justice done, all of which criminal practice offers. But none of those things themselves actually put food on the table, and like I said they have higher responsibilities than most other professions. Those financial and emotional pressures, the effects of which are not necessarily foreseeable including the constant exposure to the worst in society and living in payment limbo, breaks them much like in other public professions.

Criminal barristers take on private work, no one is disagreeing with that. Why should barristers subsidise a legal aid practice where they have no control over the fees with work they earn privately or elsewhere? Among them and medical professions, there is an expectation that they are somehow morally bound to expect lower pay and subsidise it from their own pocket. How is that fair? We have seen it in dentistry and doctors where people cannot get appointments and are suffering as a result because there is a shortage of medical professionals. Medical professionals are moving to private practice or abroad to better paid and better work life balanced institutions, like New Zealand. There are not enough doctors/dentists to meet demand despite oversubscription to study and they too have a payment structure that does not benefit them. It has led to a two-tier system in society with the poorer suffering the most. This is the case in criminal law too with legal aid, why is any of this good for society at large in our underfunded public systems?

Sure, everyone has some terrible clients, but I am pretty sure the vast majority of clients want the business there and the clients are not literal criminals (you must live in a middle class bubble if you do not understand what it is like dealing with such people). If said terrible client say assaults an SME, that SME would expect the criminal justice system to ensure punishment, but that isn’t happening for years, especially for those SMEs most vulnerable at the lower earning scales because of the backlog and loss of criminal legal aid practising barristers. So how do you want to explain to them that they won’t get a trial for 3 years because there are no barristers, judges or courtrooms available until then, that they will relive that trauma with no sense of closure, and that there is a real issue of keeping track of defendants and victims for that period of time so their case may be lost in the system?

The public should be scared. Cases are already being listed for years in the future because of the backlog. Those held in custody could be there for months or years waiting for trial if the government has its way and increases custody time limits, holding defendants’ lives in limbo as they await trial, or there will be (and already are) dangerous criminals being let out on bail because the backlog has led to such delay in the courts that the CTL expires. Which would you rather?

Criminal barristers do not have a problem with being self-employed themselves and all that comes with it, they have a problem with how much they are paid for legal aid work, that they have no control or influence on how much they are paid despite level of experience or hours worked, that barristers under 5 years call do not have the practice built up to sustain themselves and so move to other areas of law where they can survive.

Barristers do not want to leave “the public to fend for themselves” or even hold them to ransom. They literally do not want the slow motion car crash that is already happening that is the collapse of their profession where there will be no one left or willing to defend legal aid cases, and are showing the effects of this future in the strike action before it is too late. They are not robots, they have lives, responsibilities, and emotions yet you seem quite happy to vilify, berate and take advantage of them.

You are hellbent on conflating legal aid and private work as well as different areas of law and show yourself to be tunnel visioned, unempathetic and wilfully ignorant to the issues facing criminal barristers. You look to push an agenda that benefits literally no one except your own ego with your main strategy of “Ah but”ing and ignoring valid points raised. I could hold your face to a pile of excrement, and you would still proclaim you couldn’t smell it. By chance are you a non-practicing barrister with a chip on your shoulder given your obsession with the stats on the competitiveness of the profession? You also still refuse to acknowledge that you would not do the work of a legal aid barrister for their pay so I can only assume that you could or would not, so get off your high horse already.

Anonimo

“I could hold your face to a pile of excrement, and you would still proclaim you couldn’t smell it.”

Absolutely incredible how angry and violent people want to get because the public dares to disagree with them.

Does your barrister partner know you want to hold another person’s face in a pile of excrement, because someone has pointed out your partner isn’t as poor as a disabled person claiming PIP?

This is EXACTLY why no one should support the strike. These are not people who care about the public – they care about their egos and resort to anger and attempts at intimidation when they don’t get their way.

Keep proving my point.

I deal with trolls

Keep dreaming, you literally prove my point in your last post that you cannot form any sort of arguement and that you cannot see the mess that is right in front of you. You cry foul at the slightest uncomfortable truth that you cannot deal with and sidetrack to avoid dealing with actual issues. You are not a representative of the public nor are you some matyr. You are not the one facing the collapse of your profession and are willfully blind to the collapse of our right to a fair trial in our country. Get over yourself.

Anon

You use lies, self grandeur and avoidance to try and push a self serving and destructive narrative that will ultimately hurt those you claim to represent and protect.

Anonimo

“You use lies, self grandeur and avoidance to try and push a self serving and destructive narrative that will ultimately hurt those you claim to represent and protect”

Criminal barristers were claiming 20 years ago that their side of the profession was about to ‘collapse’, but evidently there’s still plenty of work and advocates to go around. There are barristers sitting at home on strike, but apparently the real risk to society comes from people like me who know exactly how diverse a criminal barrister’s income stream really is???? Absolutely laughing.

What do people in France, Japan, Australia, Germany and other western countries do when they are accused of crimes? You do know there are other countries outside the UK? Have their justice systems ‘collapsed’ because these states pay criminal lawyers within their jurisdiction?? No? Maybe that’s a clue as to what to expect.

If anything ever ‘collapses’, it will be because barristers are choosing not to work. Funny how no former clients are coming out in support of the strike? Maybe they don’t like being told that real ‘poverty’ is to be found within their advocate in the £400 wig?

Anon

Collapse does not happen overnight; it is a slow car crash that we are sleep walking into. Ever heard of a phenomenon called climate change? There were warning signs and alarms raised years ago and now fewer newer barristers are staying in criminal practice or are sacrificing their potential earnings and health to stay crime, they are the realities we face. There is plenty of work, too much work, work that they cannot get through quick enough and is leading to a choked system and pile up for all reasons listed above, a bit like how not paying your credit card off in full leads to a debt spiral. The strike is in effect barristers removing the support beams they put there after the government removed theirs in reducing legal aid to hold the system together.

The annual criminal legal aid budget has fallen from nearly £1.7bn to just over £600 million over the course of 15 years. By comparison, sickness and disability spending alone has doubled over the same time frame to around £50bn and there are still calls to increase sickness and disability payments because it is not functioning. It would not take much to properly fund the legal aid system as a proportion of the national budget. Think of billions in fraudulent Covid loans the government wrote off that could have been so much better spent and chased if the legal system functioned properly, aiding not only legal aid but other areas in society like the NHS, energy poverty or Disability Allowance.

We are not in France, Japan, or Germany, and I am not sure what point you are raising but I presume the point you are trying to make is that they are doing fine, so should we. Perhaps those countries value their legal aid systems and have legal aid properly funded with better functioning economies and societies? Have these countries slashed their legal aid budgets too? Are you telling me that we should not aspire to have such systems ourselves where the poor are properly represented? I do not actually know the ins and outs of other legal systems, so please tell me, what I am missing in this point you raise?

You shoot yourself in the foot mentioning Australia though. The Australian courts have faced cuts over the years and are grumbling. Proposed legal aid cuts are forcing states in Australia to restrict legal aid access to major cities only, creating a two-tier system of justice. In 2016, cuts led to 45,000 people representing themselves in court who would have otherwise been eligible for legal aid and could not afford representation. Do you want to represent yourself at court, review reams of evidence, confront the accused, learn the law, ethics, public speaking, powers of persuasion and proper court procedure to name some of the challenges, because that is where we are heading right here in England and Wales and there will be miscarriages of justice as a result.

You honestly think clients – defendants and claimants – would jump to the aid of barristers when they have been stuck in a legal system that holds up their lives for years for reasons stated above and when all they see are the barristers and solicitors as faces said system, not the gears behind the walls grinding to a halt? You think that the public, misguided by propaganda and omission of facts, from the government I might add, are able to make a fully informed decisions about supporting or rejecting the barristers strike? Barristers have the support of the solicitors, judges, MPs that aren’t Dominic Raab, the UCU, many major news outlets, and anyone not ignorant to the matters at hand.

“People like me [you] who know exactly how diverse a criminal barrister’s income stream really is????”

So, are you going to explain my point that a diversified practice diverts the time and energies of criminal barristers away from legal aid criminal cases? That they are so diversified because they cannot make an income from a criminal legal aid practice alone? Barristers fill their diaries with other work that pays better and so are unavailable for publicly funded criminal matters, which as I have explained above leads to effectively a reduction in legal aid criminal barristers and a choking of the system. You also imply that first year practice is equally as diversified as a 10-year call barrister, homogenising the group and again show little understanding of the criminal bar as it actually is.

Finally, they can get rid of the wigs for all I care and all that it adds to this discussion. They aim to buy one their entire career and it is a single upfront cost. It is part of their uniform, whether the criminal barristers or anyone else likes it or not. At least you know who the criminal barristers are in the building with the wigs, would you rather they wear hi-vis?

Anon

To put it further into perspective, even the charities Victim Support and Rape Crisis support the strike action because they know that the system has been failing for years! Victims were suffering long before the strikes, waiting years to have a case called and concluded so they could move on. The strikes did not cause a 60,000 case backlog in the crown courts, government cuts did.

The barristers get rid of the wigs, they get a one off £400 back in their pocket What then? We still have a failed system with newer barristers earning less than minimum wage and moving away from crime. Like I said, it adds nothing to the discussion and is just a short sighted distraction.

Alistair

To say you miss the point is generous.

The days of action are neither attention seeking, not is it pointless. If only the same could be said for your comment.

Al

Stephen King tells of a kid he knew growing up who would check the local obituary column every day, and then cross people out of the phone book.

Yesterday I was drafting an application for a case that’s currently in the Queen’s Bench Division. But I checked and I did have to change that to King’s Bench Division.

It was weird. I felt a little bit like that kid.

Anon

Riveting stuff. Have you optioned the film rights to this tale yet?

Archibald Pomp O'City

Cool story, bro.

Scouser of Counsel

I know what you mean…

Today I drafted an indictment and had to go back and amend it to “The King – v – …”

Ditto when I prepared a sentencing note in another case. I began “Regina v….” in an almost automatic way before realising it needed to be “Rex v…”

I dare say we will get used to it.

God Save the King.

Mobey

What on earth are mourning bands?

Helpful

You can hire then for funerals. The play a medley of depressing dirges, usually a 4 or 5 piece outfit. They do need support because their work dropped dramatically after the proliferation of Spotify playlists of funeral music.

Anon

As much as I enjoy the above definition, you know the two strips of fabric under a barrister’s collar, they are called bands. Mourning bands are a specific type of band with extra pleats, and worn by barristers and judges when a person of great significance dies and the court goes into mourning, in this case for the Queen.

Or they are elastic bands used to cause pain to help you cry during periods of mourning. Twang them round the back of someone’s thigh and the tears come flooding.

Al

`Latest from LCJ and HMCTS is we can wear them if we want to, but we don’t have to.

Shucks

Shame, I did like the idea of turning up with a musical entourage for a week. I was going to go mariachi.

Archibald Pomp O'City

“but poignant and affecting for me personally”.

Pompous fool. I’ll wager he uses the word “saddened” to describe feeling sad, and “minded” to describe an inclination to make a decision.

My name changed

“just amended my email footer from QC to KC. A mundane and unimportant task in itself, but poignant and affecting for me personally.”

What a throbber. We have reached the point where people are announcing into the ether a change in their email signature.

Boy

My thoughts exactly tbh

Anonymous

Lol what’s wrong with that?

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