Lawyer eco group which sparked cab rank rule row pushes ahead with ‘declaration of conscience’
Projects message on High Court
A group of eco-minded lawyers is pushing ahead with plans not to act for companies supporting new fossil fuel projects or to prosecute peaceful climate change protesters, despite the move attracting criticism from some sections of the legal profession.
Lawyers are Responsible today issued a “declaration of conscience” outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice as part of a peaceful demonstration led by psychoanalyst and author Anouchka Grose.
Legal Cheek reported over the weekend that 140 lawyers had signed the declaration which the group says is prompted by the legal profession’s “service of the fossil fuel industry”.
News of the letter late last week triggered a heated debate across social media, with some lawyers warning that the move would be in breach of the ‘cab rank rule’, a barrister’s professional obligation to represent everyone.
As part of today’s official launch, the group released a video of their message being projected onto the Royal Courts of Justice. You can watch the clip below.
Lawyers Are Responsible. What will you do?
Royal Courts of Justice, Londonhttps://t.co/oY3NTgJd6F pic.twitter.com/CrS9Br14qZ
— LawyersAreResponsible (@LawyersAreResp) March 29, 2023
Lawyers are Responsible features some big legal names including Jolyon Maugham KC, Professor Leslie Thomas KC and Paul Powlesland. You may recognise that last name from Legal Cheek’s recent coverage of his stand-off with Northamptonshire police during a protest against tree-felling.
Commenting on the launch, Jodie Blackstock, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers who has signed the declaration, commented:
“As a barrister committed to access to justice throughout my career, I have signed the Declaration because humanity has reached a point from which there is no return. Colleagues brokering these deals need to be aware of the consequences. The Rule of Law promotes and protects the rights of the marginalised. It is subverted when those causing the harm go unchallenged but those raising the alarm are criminalised.”
Further reading: Cab rank rule row rocks the Bar [Legal Cheek]
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I would happily see these lawyers barred from practice. Lawyers are instructed to argue the law applied to a set of facts, whether they like the facts or the law. And it’s for lawyers, certainly barristers, to take cases as they are presented to them. The well-rehearsed reasons for the cab-rank rule are sound, and this public denouncement of the rule is harmful.
When I take a case, I may like or not like the client; I may think the law applied to the case is fair or unfair. The point is, no one knows what I think, and it does not matter, because I have to take the case. These lawyers, stating their position so publicly, are likely to cause viewpoints to be ascribed to lawyers who quietly carry on with their jobs. Will lawyers taking fossil fuel work be regarded as pro-fossil fuels/indifferent to climate change, because they have not shouted from the rooftops about their care for the environment? Quite possibly, and that is dangerous. Firstly because that may well not represent those lawyers’ views in any event. And, secondly, because destroys the illusion of lawyers being people who take cases irrespective of their own views.
If you are really that opposed to a type of work, or a particular viewpoint, then just quietly make sure you are unavailable when asked to take the work. Better still, if your views are that strong, go in to politics.
You are a fool!
So the law profession should not only stand by and watch humanity self-destruct but also facilitate it ! Remember law is part of humanity. Where is it written in stone that the Cab-Rank rule is God!!!!
WAKE UP!!!!!YOU ARE RAPIDLY SAWING THROUGH THE VERY BRANCH YOU ARE SITTING ON!!!!
WELL DONE ALL THOSE FORWARD THINKERS WHO SIGNED THE DECLARATION OF CONSCIENCE🌳🌳🌏🌍🌎🌹🌈🦦🦦YOU ARE FANTASTIC💐🌾🦌🦩🐇🐀