The message I sent you on Monday morning seems a very long time ago.  Many of you will be struggling to adjust to the shock that our children’s public exams have been cancelled for this summer.  
Please read the messages sent out by the Bar Council, which are providing updates of the efforts they are making to safeguard the way we work in the justice system and to mitigate the worst of the economic damage that is likely to occur.  All Circuits and SBAs are feeding into the Bar Council’s constant dialogue with Government trying to cope with this new reality.  One key matter being tackled with HMT is that self-employed sole traders and chambers operating a TPAs (rather than through limited companies) qualify as “small and medium sized businesses”, and so would be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS).     
Keep sending in emails to the Bar Council working group;  they are all read and digested and fed into our efforts.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland put out a statement yesterday on the running of the courts.  In it, he refers to the steps that are being taken to enable as many hearings as possible to be conducted with some or all of the participants attending by telephone, video-link or online.  HMCTS has just published new guidance on how we will use telephone and video technology to support the justice system during the coronavirus outbreak.  Read this, think about it and see how you can make it work.  If you have better ideas, share them.
The nature of the technological solutions that we might use will differ in criminal, family, civil and tribunal proceedings.  We are all going to have to learn new ways of making the system work.  If you think that guidance issued does not help your area of practise, write to one of us and explain why and we will do what we can to improve the situation.
HMCTS coronavirus GOV.UK guidance page continues to be updated as regularly and quickly as possible and is vital reading.

Read the extremely helpful letter from Lord Justice Fulford about the efforts being made by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division to adjust to the reality of this disease and what can be done to try and make sure the wheels of justice continue to turn.
Above all, please follow the advice from PHE and do not “soldier on” if you have any of the symptoms or are in any of the high risk groups.  Your health and that of your families are critical.  THE NOBLE AND LONGSTANDING TRADITIONS OF THE BAR ABOUT TURNING UP TO COURT AT ALL COSTS IF YOU ARE NOT IN HOSPITAL, DO NOT APPLY TO THE CURRENT SITUATION WE FACE.  IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE SYMPTOMS, STAY AT HOME AND DO NOT ENDANGER OTHER PEOPLE BY TRAVELLING TO COURT.  If anyone has any concerns at all about their professional position, please feel free to 
email me
 if you have queries.

Best wishes to you all
Mark Fenhalls QC
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit
Copyright © 2020 The South Eastern Circuit, All rights reserved.

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