Latest message from Chair of the Bar, Amanda Pinto QC, on the COVID-19 situation

Dear Members of the Bar,

I want to thank everyone who is helping to address the very serious concerns that barristers are expressing about running the justice system effectively at this extremely difficult and uncertain time. Things are moving quickly with huge strides being made by cooperation between the judiciary, the government, the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service and the Bar and our colleagues in the legal professions.

Within the last few minutes I am delighted to say that the Lord Chief Justice has issued new, helpful guidance to judges on civil and family cases, as has the President of the Family Division, which sets out the norm that works in all jurisdictions is to be conducted remotely where possible. We welcome this strong steer. Please spread this to as many people as you can in the justice system so that no one is under any illusion about what the default position is. Everyone will be safer and work can continue to be done in the interests of justice and the public.

We have been:

• Talking to the Government to ask for barristers to be included as ‘key workers’ so that their children can continue to attend schools;

• Identifying what financial help is available for barristers;

• Talking to the Inns about what support they can provide to lighten financial pressure on the Bar;

• Liaising with the senior judiciary;

• Liaising with Circuit Leaders and Specialist Bar Associations; and

• Liaising with the Government, including the Lord Chancellor, officials, HMCTS and agencies.

Please do look out for BarTalk which is being published later today with a lot of information on issues of concern to us all.

 

Amanda Pinto QC

Chair of the Bar

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