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Bar council to make its case to Parliamentarians this party conference season

Date:19 SEP 2014
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The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, will make its case to Parliamentarians this party conference season to stress the importance of fair access to justice for all, and highlight the challenges involved in delivering an effective and efficient system of justice in this time of financial austerity.

Beginning with the Labour Party conference in Manchester from 21-24 September, followed by the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on 28-30 September, the Chairman will meet with MPs and party members to discuss key issues on which the Bar Council has been lobbying parliamentarians over the past year.

These issues include cuts in criminal legal aid, the future of the Bar, the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) on civil justice, changes to judicial review to make it more difficult to challenge public authority, and the value of the Bar’s international work to UK plc. The Chairman will address fringe meetings organised by the Society of Labour Lawyers and the Society of Conservative Lawyers and take part in other meetings.

The Bar Council has published a Party Conference Briefing, available here, which summarises the points which the Bar Council will be making to conference participants. In addition, the Bar Council has published a research report examining the impact of LASPO legislation on access to civil justice, which is available  here.

Nicholas Lavender QC, Chairman of the Bar Council said:

'We shall be seeking to explain the impact that government cuts have had on our system of justice and what that means for those who are unable to afford legal representation. It is important to highlight the risks which these changes pose to our global reputation for ensuring effective access to justice and upholding the rule of law. The primary beneficiaries of a strong and viable legal aid system are the members of the public who depend upon it, not the practitioners who represent them.

The Bar Council recognises that the legal services sector is not immune from the effects of the current unparalleled financial austerity. We are reviewing the procedures and processes of our criminal justice system and will be identifying the scope for achieving greater efficiency as well as showing how the Bar can continue to make an effective, high quality contribution to the administration of justice.

The Government has recognised that the Bar is a valuable national asset and makes a significant contribution to our economy. But it must ensure that the justice system is genuinely open to all, not least those who are unable to pay for it themselves.'