The South Eastern Circuit
Leader's Update
I am not going to repeat what I said about the “Next Steps” recovery plan published last week.   But if HMCTS is right and there are 250 trial courts ready to go across the country by November, then good progress will have been made.  We just have to keep asking that these are only used for jury trials, and that everything else is listed in the other 238 crown court rooms in the estate.  And we urgently need an answer to multi-handers.  Where is the decision making and investment needed to cure this critical problem which usually concerns the most serious of cases?
This week has seen some improvement in Crown Court listing.  In late July, the average day on Circuit saw about 25-30 trials.  This figure has now risen to 50 or more.  Still a tiny amount, and not any cases of great length or with multiple defendants, but some progress.
The critical need for HMCTS to be more open about its plans could not be more acute.  At Bolton Crown Court today a Crown Court Judge refused to extend CTLs in a six-handed case that includes an offence on the indictment conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.  As you might image the arguments covered the efforts of HMCTS to improve jury trial capacity in the Crown Court.  In one paragraph the Judge said:  ‘However, I have no information about the level of investment which is being provided overall, or about the basis upon which it is being allocated between regions or individual courts.’  It would seem that it is also the Judges who are being kept in the dark about the detailed plans.
HMCTS is still pushing forward with procurement and it is hoped that large quantities of Perspex will start to arrive from mid-September.  But why on earth they cannot simply publish at least indicative dates, court by court, is just beyond me.
Magistrates Courts
I am pleased to be able to report that many Magistrates Courts lists are now being published on Courtserve.  This is a very welcome development.
Extended Operating Hours
I am extremely grateful to the Resident Judges at Snaresbrook (HHJ Zeidman QC) and Reading (HHJ Norton) who have agreed to join me for a zoom Q&A next Tuesday 8th, 6-7pm when they will answer questions about how the pilots will be run at their courts, from 14th and 21st September respectively.  If you want an invitation, please contact
At Snaresbrook, for example, some of your solicitors will have received letters earlier this week notifying them that one of their cases may be selected for either the 9am-1pm, or 2-6pm slot.  Once allocated to either morning or afternoon slot this will not change. There will be PTRs held by HHJ Zeidman QC when he will listen to representations as to why the witnesses, defendants or counsel may be in difficulties.  HMCTS is fully aware of the intensity of cleaning arrangements that will need to be in place.  Everyone recognises the challenge it will be for the authorities to deliver clients on remand in time for a prompt start at 9am.
Preliminary reports from the early pilots at Hull and Liverpool are that many cases are cracking.  This of course is no bad thing.  The list offices on our Circuit are well aware of the need to balance footfall, but also make sure backer cases are available to make the most of the scarce jury time.
Please do not think that the summary above means anyone is happy about the pilots, or that we think they will “work”.  Nor am I going to return here to the potentially discriminatory effects, because these arguments have been made and, for the moment, not listened to.
S28 Roll Out
I am also delighted that HHJ Lodder QC and HHJ Cahill QC have agreed to guest at an SEC Q&A on “s28 practicalities” on 22nd September 6-7pm.  If you would you like an invitation, please contact
Standing in Bar Council election
Please look at this link to the information about the
Bar Council Subscriber Elections for the Bar Council 2021 and consider standing for election.  Having a strong and diverse membership that reflects the profession has never been more important. 
I wish you all a very good weekend.

Mark Fenhalls QC
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit

The Barristers' Benevolent Association:
The four Inns, together with the Barristers’ Benevolent Association, have launched a Covid-19 fund to give emergency financial assistance where it is urgently needed at the Bar. This fund will help those members of the Bar who are unable to support themselves and their families during these difficult times.

Their aim is to make emergency grants to barristers who are suffering financial hardship as a result of C19 impeding their ability to work as a barrister, as fairly, swiftly and simply as possible.

For details visit their website and complete the short Covid19 application form and email it to
Website: Email: or
Telephone: 07887 841302 and 07375 557326
The BBA exist to support, help and comfort those members of the Bar in England and Wales and their families and dependents who are in need, distress or difficulties. 

Bar Council Elections 2021:
Elections for nominations to the 
Bar Council 2021 can be accessed here.  
Closing date - 21st September.

Nominations for the 2020 Bar Pro Bono Awards are OPEN!
Do you have a friend or colleague who goes above and beyond for every pro bono client? A mentor who goes the extra mile? A clerk who always manages to find time in everyone’s diaries for pro bono work? 

Give them the recognition they deserve by nominating them for a Bar Pro Bono Award at 

The deadline for nominations is Sunday 27th September 2020 and most of the awards will be presented at an online awards ceremony during Pro Bono Week in November.

Call for Volunteers - Inner Temple Online Advocacy Weekend 2020:
The Inner Temple traditionally runs three residential weekends a year for its student members, each weekend focusing on a certain niche area of the law. These weekends typically take place either at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor or at Highgate House in Northamptonshire and are popular Qualifying Sessions amongst the student body.

Given the current situation, the weekend scheduled for 27th -29th November 2020 will be held online, rather than at Cumberland Lodge, but will otherwise be going ahead with all its usual advocacy sessions and lectures. The weekend is being led by Master Alistair McCreath and Abimbola Johnson (25 Bedford Row) and is entitled Modern Slavery and the Modern Slavery Act.

Inner Temple are keen to invite group leaders for this event who are, ideally, Inner Temple members with experience in this area of law (although this is not essential). We are particularly interested in hearing from volunteers from BAME backgrounds. The traditional role of a Group Leader is to help the students to prepare for the advocacy exercise they are set to perform before a judge on the Sunday, to lead preparation sessions on the Saturday and to assist students generally throughout the weekend. In an online format, you would be split into groups from the Friday night (around 6.30pm) and put back into these groups at various points throughout the weekend, to allow you to get to know your group well.

If you would be willing to act as a group leader, do let Inner Temple know at your earliest convenience (using email


Parental Talk with Noel Janis-Norton:
Recorded on 22nd July 2020

A copy of the this recording can be accessed here
SEC and Bar Mess Events:
Calmer Parenting & Teaching:
'Teach your child to read with my fun and proven method'
September online course
A SEC discount has been applied to this course

Full details and to book

SEC/Snaresbrook and Reading CC Guidance ON EOH - Virtual Lecture:
Guest Speakers: HHJ Martyn Zeidman QC and HHJ Heather Norton
Tuesday 8th September
18.00 - 19.30
This session will detail the current pilot being run at Snaresbrook and Reading Crown Courts and answer any practical questions which you may have.  

The access link will be issued on the day of the session. 

Please register your interest to attend here.

SEC/S28 - Q&A - Virtual Lecture:
Guest Speakers: HHJ Sally Cahill QC and HHJ Peter Lodder QC
Tuesday 22nd September  
18.00 - 19.30

The access link will be issued on the day of the session. 

Please register your interest to attend here.
SEC/Recorder Exam Guidance - Virtual Lecture:
Monday 28th September - please note the date change.
17.00 - 18.30
A session focused on exploring how to approach the recorder application process.  This seminar draws on the expertise of sitting Recorders and Circuit Judges to explore prepare to make an application, how to navigate the application form and its pitfalls, and how to approach the final exam.  This session is expected to be very popular; please reserve your place as soon as possible.

Please register your interest to attend here.

Diversifying your Practice:
An Evening in October 2020
Further details will be announced shortly
SEC/CPS Form Filling Virtual Lecture:
The date of this course will be confirmed by 15th September.
17.00 - 18.30
An intensive session designed to explore all issues surrounding CPS grading applications.  A panel of speakers will discuss how to tailor your experience to the CPS grading criteria, and to project your skills appropriately.  There will also be an exploration of common mistakes made in the application process, and how to best avoid these.
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