The South Eastern Circuit
Leader's Update

It seems a long time since I last wrote to you in the early days of February; I’m pleased to see the days are getting longer and the temperatures warmer. There are many fewer COVID restrictions and I am hopeful that things may start to improve at the Courts, Tribunals and in the offices in which you work. 
In relation to the Crown Courts, I have recently emailed the Resident Judges on Circuit to discuss some of the problems of which we are all aware – s28/GRHs, listing issues, shortage of counsel, etc. All of them are well aware of how hard you are all working to keep the show on the road, de
spite having to deal with listing problems and the frustration of fixtures being broken and trials being pulled at the last minute. 
The criminal practitioners amongst you many of whom voted to take action in the CBA ballot will obviously be considering how best to manage your diary after 11th
 April 2022 with the advent of ‘no returns’. If you haven’t already please do consult the CBA Guidance. If you have any concerns please get in touch – the Circuit is here for everyone - those taking action and those not. 
I am hoping to visit some of the Courts that I don’t get to very often in the coming months.  If you have specific issues which I can help with, do please let me know. Equally if you would like me to come to your local court let me know. 

For those civil, family and employment practitioners amongst you please tell me how you think I might be able to help. I am in the process of writing to the RJs in the County Courts – let me know your concerns. 
I apologise to Members of Circuit who are members of the employed Bar; you often get overlooked in this message and I am aware that you have had your own unique set of difficulties to deal with during the pandemic. As with all members of Circuit please contact me if you feel the Circuit or I can help in any way. 
I would like to thank Kevin Sadler for his hard work and enthusiasm in his time as interim Chief Executive of HMCTS. We wish him well in his retirement. In one of his last emails to me he asked me to assure you that HMCTS are committed to making improvements where needed as soon as they can. The courts continue to deal with the issues of Perspex screens and social distancing in a way the rest of the world does not – I am continuing to speak with those in HMCTS who make those decisions. It is beyond belief that the majority of vending machines in the South East still do not work; I am told they should be back, working by the end of March. 

HMCTS continues to follow government and 
public health guidance. The latest COVID-19 guidance for all court and tribunal users is updated when new advice is available.
We welcome Nick Goodwin to his new position as Chief Executive of the HMCTS and look forward to working with him. Nick is currently Chief Executive of the Office for the Public Guardian and, before that, he was Director for Access to Justice policy at the Ministry of Justice.
Some general HMCTS updates:


  • Defence barristers attending court for a Common Platform hearing should use the professional check-in feature, in both the Crown and magistrates’ courts. HMCTS have provided a   video guide to help. If you experience issues, please let the court usher or clerk know and they can assist. Checking in does not remove the need to communicate with court ushers regarding your case.
  • Reminder: 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. 


  • Updated: From Monday 4th April 2022, legal professionals issuing claims for damages that fall under the scope of Practice Direction 51ZB should use the Damages Claim service on MyHMCTS. Legal professionals acting for claimants can find guidance and sign up on GOV.UK.


  • Reminder: Applications for care and supervisions orders for childcare have moved online across all local authorities in England and Wales.
  • Reminder: The C100 bulk scanning service at Slough closed on Tuesday 15th March 2022. Please use the online service to make arrangements for children for both urgent and non-urgent applications. If applications are urgent and need to be heard on the same day please continue to call or email your local court.
  • Reminder: New divorce laws will come into force from 6th April 2022. 


  • Updated: The E-Filing service for litigants in person and professional users of the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) went live on Monday 14th March 2022.

CVP – appropriate clothing
You will have seen the protocol for CVP issued by the LCJ in February. The phrase ‘same standards of dress . . . are required as in court’ means wigs and gowns. Obviously this has not been the case during the worst of the pandemic, but if we are to retain the ability to use CVP, with all its advantages, then please do follow the rules on this.
Some judges will not expect counsel to be robed but many will. Your default position should be to be robed. If you are not expecting to be in court and you don’t have your robes or on holiday just ask the judge for permission beforehand – I’m sure there won’t be an issue.
Nightingale Courts Update
Leases have been extended on the Nightingale Courts at Prospero House, Barbican, Croydon, Maidstone and Chichester, which is excellent news. The replacement for the Monument Court will be The Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn.
It will begin operating two Crown courtrooms from the end of March.
In the ongoing battle against the backlog, the Nightingales provide a small drop in a very big ocean but they continue to get through work. 
As with all courts and cases if you have time please do review your cases; if you think they might carve / be ineffective for any reason be proactive and get them listed if necessary. You get paid and the case is removed from the backlog. 
Professional Users Access Scheme
HMCTS has confirmed that their fast track entry scheme has now been extended to all their sites. If you have not already registered, please do so 
here. I doubt that they have extended it to Kingston Crown Court – let me know!
A message from the Central Criminal Court
There is a large amount of both personal and professional material that has been left in the CCC robing rooms - the male, female and male silks’ rooms. 
I’m told the material presents a fire hazard and a GDPR issue. There will be a clear out over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd April 2022. All papers left in the robing room after 1st April 2022 will be destroyed.

Insolvency Rules Committee
The Ministry of Justice is currently advertising for a Barrister Member for the Insolvency Rules Committee (IRC) and their Public Appointments Committee has asked for help in disseminating the information as it may be of interest to Bar Council and committee members.
The role of the committee is to review and consider new secondary legislation that adds to or amends the insolvency framework.
Full details of the role, and how to apply, can be
found here.
Please note that the closing date for applications is 9.00am on Monday 11th April.

Memorial Service for HHJ Alistair McCreath
This will take place in Temple Church on 19th May 2022 starting at 18.00. there will be refreshments afterwards at Inner Temple. Everyone is welcome. 
Valedictories and Farewells
HHJ Martyn Zeidman QC will be retiring as Resident Judge of Snaresbrook, with HHJ Oscar Del Fabbro taking over as the acting RJ until a successor is selected. We will be very sorry to see HHJ Zeidman leave, he has been a kind and patient judge and a pleasure to appear before. His valedictory is on Friday 27th May at 9.45am. We will circulate details closer to the time. 

HHJ Francis Sheridan DL is stepping down as the Resident Judge of Aylesbury at the end of the month when his official term is up. Details of a dinner to be held in his honour on  Friday 6th May can be found here.   Unsurprisingly this is sold out but there is a waiting list – please contact Adam Williams at 4 KBW. 

Quite amazingly, I am told that during his time at Aylesbury His Honour has donated a total of just under £1m in charitable donations. This is through monies raised by forfeiture orders under the Misuse of Drugs Act s27. Recently funding has been given for two guide dogs – Judge and Jury. On the basis that everyone loves a pic of a cute dog – here are two – and HHJ Sheridan!


SEC Admin Office
The Office will be taking a much-needed and well-deserved break over the Easter Holiday and will be closed from 11-22 April, except for 12th for the Recorder Talk. 
I wish you all well over the coming days and weeks. Have a happy Easter / Passover / holiday break.

Please remember the Circuit is here for you and is only as strong as our membership.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you think that we can help in any way. 



Christine Agnew QC
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit


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

ICCA Pupilage Ethics Material:
The ICCA’s Pupillage Ethics materials have been designed to assist pupils in their preparation for the Bar Standards Board’s centrally-set Pupillage Ethics Exam.  
Please access the material here.

Advocacy & the Vulnerable Resources:
For those who are yet to study the Criminal A&V materials, there is a new activity at Stage 3 which is accessible via the 
Bar Council Portal. There is now just one interactive activity taking delegates through a 'best practice' cross-examination of the youngest complainant in the R v George Graham case study. For anyone who has already completed the course, the new activity is recommended revision!

Please support access to justice through Advocate, the Bar’s pro bono charity
The last page of the practising certificate renewal form contains the important opportunity to donate to Advocate. Pro bono can and should never be a substitute for legal aid, but through Advocate, the profession provides a lifeline for many vulnerable applicants who desperately need help and cannot access legal services. 

Your support cannot be overstated. Donations on renewal made up 41% of our income last year, with 43% of all barristers contributing. We received 17 requests for help every day in 2021 just for our core casework service. Our cases included assisting an asylum seeker suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, restoring registration for carers incorrectly accused of assault, and helping a seriously injured business owner to recover his IP rights and rebuild his business post lockdown.

Further information is available here.

Bar Council Guidance: Returning instructions in Criminal Cases:
New Bar Council guidance on Returning Instructions in Criminal Cases: R v Daniels [2021] EWCA Crim 44
The Ethics Committee of the Bar Council has produced new guidance document to assist counsel in criminal cases to determine in what circumstances they must or may return instructions to appear at trial on grounds of professional embarrassment and related grounds. Questions relating to returning instructions in criminal cases are fairly common and often need rapid resolution, depending on the stage the case has reached. The Ethics Committee hopes this new guidance will support the criminal Bar in understanding the relevant ethical considerations and some new caselaw in order that they can determine the right course of action, exercising their professional judgement. This guidance is applicable to all barristers practising in the field of criminal law. It has been published on the Bar Council’s , alongside the existing library of ethics and practice guidance documents. 

BTAS is Recruiting: 
The Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service (BTAS) is responsible for organising and administering Disciplinary Tribunals and other hearings to consider the most serious allegations of professional misconduct against practising and aspiring barristers. 

We are looking for a diverse range of practitioners to serve as Panel Chairs, Panel Members and Clerks at Disciplinary Tribunals and other hearings for barristers. We are interested in applicants of any level of seniority as a barrister or clerk; what is important is that you want to make a contribution to your profession.

Please visit for further information. 
The closing date is 4th April.

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:

Recorder Application Training Seminar:
Tuesday 12th April 
18.00 - 19.00
Online Lecture
Full detail and to book

Recorder Interview Training Seminar:
Tuesday 10th May 
18.00 - 19.00
Online Lecture 

Full details and to book

Applied Memory Research:
Tuesday 14th June
18.00 - 19.00
Online Lecture

Full details and to book

The 2022 Advanced International Advocacy Course:
30th August - 3rd September
Keble College, Oxford

Full details and to book

Silk Interview Training Seminar:
18.00 - 19.00
Online Lecture

Full details and to book

Other Events:

The Black Barristers' Network:
'Making and Receiving Complaints'
Monday 28th March

Full details and to book

BACFI Event: 
'Social Mobility and the Employed Bar'
Wednesday 30th March
18.00 - 19.30

Full details and to book

Valedictory Dinner for the Honorary Recorder of Aylesbury:
HHJ Francis Sheridan
Friday 6th May

Full details and to book 

BACFI Event:
'The Employed Bar Garden Party'
Wednesday 15th June
Middle Temple

Full details and to book

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