The South Eastern Circuit
Leader's Update

I hope you are well and 2022 has been good to you so far. 

Our previous Leader, Mark Fenhalls QC, has taken up his position as Chair of the Bar as of January. I know he will work tirelessly on our behalf and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. 
As we begin to put the long and dark days of January behind us it is clear that, for many, 2022 will be even busier on the work front than 2021. It is hugely important that we all try to make the courts as efficient, pleasant and healthy as possible. 
There will be many challenges. The backlog in all courts and tribunals is still enormous and listing in many places remains over optimistic. Some courts are very happy to use CVP, others less so – we continue to push for a unified approach. S28 hearings in the criminal courts continue to spread far and wide stretching the Bar, clerks, the judiciary and list officers enormously. We await the government’s response to CLAR. 
The fact that many practitioners have left the criminal Bar is now particularly apparent. I urge you to speak up if you feel you are being treated harshly or unfairly for whatever reason. If you don’t want to raise it immediately let me or your head of Chambers know. If we don’t mention problems, there is an assumption that everything is fine. 
As we come round to the third year of Covid and slightly relaxed working environments, it is important to remember that there are still high levels of infection, and varying levels of compliance with the remaining restrictions. HMCTS policy on masks has not changed – masks should be worn in public areas of buildings and the senior judiciary advice remains that masks be worn in court except when speaking. Please do remember this, as it is not the job of the court or security staff to have to remind members of the Bar what their obligations are. 
Covid section of the Bar Council website, has recently been updated, including in relation to financial provisions and attendance at court. Do spend a little time updating and reminding yourself what is expected and required. 
Courts and Other Things
Any of you fortunate enough to have attended the Monument Nightingale Court will be disappointed to learn that the lease of the building will expire in April; cases will be listed there up until 7th April 2022 but not beyond. HMCTS are hoping to establish a replacement Nightingale Court upon the closure of Monument. If you would like to ask the HMCTS Delivery team any questions, please email  
The dreaded Common Platform system continues to frustrate. Do remember though that if you have a Common Platform account, you need to 
login at least once every 90 days to keep it active. If your account is inactive for 90 days, it will be deregistered for security reasons. You will receive an automatic email notifying you before your account is deregistered: login to the system, and your account will remain live.
For those prosecutors amongst you, one of the Chief Crown Prosecutors has asked me to gently remind you to make sure to follow the CPS policy on ‘Speaking to witnesses at court’ (STWAC). I’m told that the most common problem is that there is a lack of a record of the conversation. I’m quite sure this is often due to there not being a CPS rep available but if that is the case you should try to keep your own record.
HHJ Ainley is retiring from the bench at Croydon Crown Court on 11th February 2022. He has been a tremendous Judge and will be much missed. There will be a valedictory at Croydon Crown Court at noon on the 11th February.  These occasions are always made more special and memorable if there is a good attendance by the Bar. 

Those members who have known HHJ Ainley, will recognise his contribution to our profession over the years, his good humour, and his kindness generally. If you are attending Croydon CC on that date please do go along, or 
contact my PA, Harriet Devey, to obtain the CVP link.

Sadly, HHJ Tim Nash has died. He was an enormous character on the Kent Bench and one rarely forgot an appearance in front of him. His funeral will be held at 2pm on 18th February, at St Mildred’s Church, Tenterden, Kent. 
It was with great sadness that the Circuit learnt of the death of HHJ Alistair McCreath. Whilst he retired some years ago, Alistair remained active on Circuit having been instrumental for many years in the drafting of course material at the SEC annual advocacy course. He was a trusted friend to many, with a lifetime of knowledge and a true zest for life; he was a popular member of the faculty among colleagues and students alike.
A massive congratulations must go to all of those members of the SEC who have been successful in their application for Silk.
They will have worked hard for a very long time and it is great to see their brilliance rewarded.  We wish you every success in the future and enjoy your day in March.
For those who have been unsuccessful keep trying!
Also watch this space as we shall be launching a Silk and Circuit Judge mentoring programme in the coming months.
We were able to dip our toe into the Circuit Drinks pond last year. We hope to be able to have many more and even the occasional dinner this year. Watch this space for details and please join us if you can. 
As ever, many thanks to those who have been in touch about problems – or good practices – on the Circuit. 

I hope you know that I will always do my best to help.

If any of you have any ideas as to how you might contribute to the Circuit please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  
Wishing you a healthy and prosperous February. 


Christine Agnew QC
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit


The South Eastern Circuit RASSO Training:
The recording and handout bundle are now available here

Job Title: Question Writer (Civil Litigation or Criminal Litigation)
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. We are responsible for setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister. As part of Bar Training, our Centralised Examinations Board (CEB) sets two exams at the vocational stage: Civil Litigation, and Criminal Litigation. We have recently introduced a new Professional Ethics examination to be taken during pupillage, with the first sitting in Spring 2022. 
We are seeking to expand our pool of question writers for Civil Litigation and Criminal Litigation. We welcome applications from legal academics (including those working at Bar Training providers), practising barristers, and qualified solicitors to join our question writing team. Applicants must be qualified to practise in England and Wales.
Questions are commissioned throughout the year. The fees are:
For Civil Litigation and Criminal Litigation:

  • £45 per accepted multiple choice question
  • £50 per accepted single best answer question
For Civil Litigation only:
  • £500 per accepted rolling case scenario 

Applications can be made by sending your CV and a short covering email stating which subject you would like to write questions for and whether you have previous experience to Charles Higgs at . The closing date for applications is 17th February 2022. If you would like any further information, please contact Charles by email. A training session will be offered from 5pm to 7pm on Monday, 21st February. 


Wellbeing Recordings:

'Resilience - Part Two'
Recorded on Thursday 4th February 2021

A copy of the recording can be accessed here

'Parental Talk - Part Two'
Recorded on Thursday 25th February 2021

A copy of the recording can be accessed here

'Persistent Musculoskeletal Pain Talk'
Presentation Slides accessed here

'Kindness at the Bar'
A copy of the recording can be access here

Further Resources

SEC and Bar Mess Events:

Retirement Dinner for HHJ David Farrell QC:
Friday 18th February 2022
19.00 till late

Full details and to book

Florida Advocacy Course - Civil:
Four Juniors Required 
17th May - 22nd May 2022
University of Gainsville, Florida

Full details and how to apply

Florida Advocacy Course - Civil:
One Silk required to join the Faculty
17th May - 22nd May 2022
University of Gainsville, Florida

Full details and how to apply

Florida Advocacy Course - Crime:
Four Juniors Required 
17th July - 22nd July 2022
University of Gainsville, Florida

Full details and how to apply

Florida Advocacy Course - Crime:
One Silk required to join the Faculty
17th July - 22nd July 2022
University of Gainsville, Florida

Full details and how to apply

Further details of the 2022 education and training programme will be released after 14th Feburary
Other Events:
HH Judge Anthony Bate and Norwich Crown Court CPO Tanya are pleased to bring to your attention an informal Teams engagement event at 9.30am on Friday 11th February 2022.
Judge Bate will give a ~ 20 minute presentation called “Aids to Case Progression – a Norfolk Refresher”, followed by Q and A, general discussion and feedback.
The event is intended mainly for CPS and defence solicitors’ caseworkers and equivalent staff responsible for signing and uploading Certificates of Trial Readiness.  Colleagues are of course also welcome to attend.
The aim is to raise awareness of these national forms, offer some practical tips to enhance the value of the Certificates and promote best practice in local case progression.
To request a link to the event, please contact Tanya at
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