The South Eastern Circuit
Leader's Update

On Wednesday morning, Cambridge Crown Court held a valedictory to mark the untimely death in service of HHJ Stuart Bridge, Fellow of Queens, Law Commissioner and co-editor of Megarry and Wade.  It was attended in person by his wife Professor Beverley Glover, Whipple J and the Cambridge Judges, Bar, solicitors and staff; and on CVP by the judges at Peterborough, Chelmsford, Luton, St Albans, Southwark and the Upper Tribunal plus Lords Lloyd-Jones and Falconer and past and present Attorney-Generals and at least 200 other individuals.  A friend who was present reports:  ‘He sounds an amazing man and I am sorry that I never met him. It was a privilege to be present and listen to the speeches.’ A full obituary will appear in an edition of The Circuiteer that we hope to publish before the end of this year.
Judicial Review:
Earlier this week a friend asked if I could help with identifying a suitable solicitor or direct access barrister who might help with a pro bono JR challenge to the behaviour of her local authority.  Her neighbouring Borough had imposed a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.  Possibly great for the next door Borough, but rubbish for my friend and all those who live near her.  A quiet and desirable neighbourhood has been turned into a rat run for traffic.  One person’s traffic calming bollards has blighted the lives of others.  Tales emerged, of a paramedic running from ambulances stuck at new road barriers to save a person in anaphylactic shock, people unable to help elderly relatives, a lady called out to her dying mother failing to get there in time due to the newly diverted routes and consequent traffic congestion...  The neighbourhood wants to do something but is terrified by the potential costs.  Nonetheless they will try to challenge a local government decision that they feel has ruined their lives.  In just the same way someone might ultimately have to resort to the courts to stop their neighbour planting Japanese knotweed or leylandii…  “Lefty lawyers” anyone?  Or people living in a liberal democracy trying to access justice in fair and open courts?  In 2013 changes were made to the CPRs introducing the “totally without merit” test and jurisdiction for immigration appeals was transferred from the Administrative Court to the Upper Tribunal.  The case load of the Administrative Court has dropped hugely since 2013.  There is no good legal reason for the Government’s current attempt to “rebalance” judicial review.   
Circuit Business:
Our AGM approaches, on November 18th.  Nominations have opened for various posts.  I will be speaking to the Officers early next week to confirm timetables for elections and composition of the Exec.  The entire justice system has been under extraordinary pressure this year.  But this has only accelerated and made stark a trend that has been underway for some years.  On our Circuit the very nature of chambers is changing as we all look afresh at our buildings, and ways of work.  As the digital world inevitably absorbs us into our screens, every institution, whether chambers, SBA, Circuit, Inns, interest group creates the networks that we each need.  Many barristers of my age lament the lost days of tea in chambers, a pint after work to discuss the events of the day or the next case.  This culture has been built up over generations and is in real danger of erosion unless we all look for ways to create alternatives.  There is no more important time to consider playing a part in the Circuit.  The more areas of practise we can represent and the more diverse the range of candidates the better.
The Criminal Courts:
Listing continues to improve.  88 trials on the SEC on Monday this week, up from low 70s in the previous two weeks and mid 60s the week before that.  All of us are nervous about health and what might come next.  But I understand that HMCTS thinks it is on track to deliver 250 jury trial ready courts by the end of this month.  There is a real determination in the MoJ to keep the courts functioning through the autumn and winter ahead – and of course the testing challenges faced by every sector of society.  Whether the courts can be used fully will depend on the uncertainties of the infection rates, illness – the obvious challenges.  The recruitment of the 1600 staff promised in late August has begun.  For my part I think we will need more to repair the cuts of several years, and to improve resilience through the winter.   
Remote Working in Civil and Family Courts:
The Bar Council’s “Civil Remote Hearings Working Group” is looking for more evidence and detail of the good and the bad in the civil and family courts and tribunals. Any anecdotes, data and similar would all be gratefully received.  Please send something through this weekend to
The Bar Conference is online in 2020:
Please take a 
look at the excellent programme that has been put together this year, particularly if you have never been before, or wondered what the Bar Council does for you.  You can choose to attend all, or only a few sessions.  
I was delighted to see that the Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot has been appointed to the High Court bench.  She brings a wealth of practical experience of the challenges that both professions face day to day and the RCJ will benefit enormously.
If you missed the Q&As on the Covid Operating Hours pilots, or the roll out of s28, you can find the 
recordings here.

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. 

BSB Guidance to Pupils:
Impact of Covid-19 on pupillage.

Access the document here.

ICCA Governors - Chair and Vice Chair Recruitment:
The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) is seeking to appoint the ICCA Chair of Governors and Vice Chair (SBA’S). Closing date is Friday 30th October 2020.

Full details and to apply.

Law Care - Life in the Law research:
Law Care have launched a ground breaking research study, ‘Life in the Law’ and have asked  the membership for assistance.  

Law Care want to encourage as many people working in the legal profession, those in training, legally qualified and support staff, to take part, as the results of this study will pave the way for determining what we can do as a profession to improve the support available to people working in the legal profession by enhancing our understanding of the issues that affect mental health and wellbeing. The data will help us all drive long lasting cultural change in legal workplaces to benefit both the present and future generation of lawyers and staff. Law Care expect the results to also form the basis of an academic paper.
Your support in helping to promote the study would be really appreciated. 
To give you an overview of the study, please see the following links, a FAQ document will be uploaded and circulated once prepared.  attached  FAQ document. I am also attaching the following promotional resources:

SEC Elections:
Nominations to the Posts of:  SEC Leader, SEC 2nd Assistant and Executive Members is now open -
Full details can be found here
(please note, the deadline may be extended by a week)

The Listing of Trials at Lewes, Brighton and Hove:
A comprehensive document has been created after our Bar Mess Rep was asked by the Resident Judge, HHJ Laing QC, to be a ‘focal point’ for liaison with the bar regarding listing at these court centres.  

The document includes a list of the fixtures which Lewes are planning on hearing between now and the end of the year, which should provide assistance to both counsel and clerks.

Access the letter to all Criminal Teams
Access the Pre-Trial Listing Questionnaire (word doc)


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:

The Common Platform:
The Common Platform is the new digital case management system for criminal cases. HMCTS will be holding a series of webinars over the next few months which will give more information about:
  • how Common Platform will affect your organisation/ firm 
  • why your organisation/ firm should subscribe to this new system 
  • how to register your organisation/ firm 
You’ll be given a demonstration of its functionality and see the benefits it will bring to the criminal justice system going forward.  

Register for the webinar ‘Introducing the Common Platform’ on 15th October 2020, at 1pm.

SEC/Recorder Exam Guidance - Virtual Lecture:
Postponed to 2021
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.

Diversifying your Practice:
Postponed to 2021
SEC/CPS Form Filling Virtual Lecture:
Postponed to 2021
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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