Back to the coal face and where we belong. First, praise where praise is due. Circuit leaders and the leadership of the CBA together created a unity which has galvanized the criminal bar. They deserve to be congratulated. Any disagreements on tactics should not or a moment sour that achievement. Further, with the active support of the new Chairman of the Bar, that cohesion has moved well outside criminal practitioners. One Bar indeed. It is a very fine achievement and even those disappointed or hurt about the resolution can share in it. Second, the needs not to crow or abuse. The result may wound our solicitors who are still bitter and angry. But real unity has been built and we can still support their cause using every democratic means open to us. Indeed we must continue to do so. Nor should we casually abuse the Lord Chancellor. He is still in post and we must still work with him. And cynical hatred is very destructive. But the real fruit of today’s announcement is the opportunity for constructive reform. This is the point seized on by the Chairman of the Bar and of the CBA and they are both right to flag it up. We need to identify, articulate and promote very specific fee injustices which cry out to be addressed. So the next joint initiative by the Circuits and the CBA should be to draw up a joint list after consultation of essential reform issues, particularly so far as they affect the future of our young practitioners. Today we also need to recognize good judgment. If we had rejected this offer, we would have continued on a destructive path to near anarchy – which is not the route of responsible professionals with a duty of care. Today good judgment prevailed. Our Leaders have made the right call, done the right thing and they should be followed. But if at night, you have a glass in your hand, stroke the dog, kiss your beloved and look forward to another day in court, that is as it should be. This profession has stepped back from disaster. Just in time. Nigel Pascoe QC.

PS. The CBA has reacted quickly to provide a vote. I hope that anger or worse, disguised political militancy will not trump reason and pragmatism.
Read the way Frances Gibb reports this in the Times. It really is an extraordinary development, even if it is unwise for us to call it a victory.

Second, I am fairly sure the majority of Western Circuiteers will breathe a huge sigh of relief and do all they can to support their solicitors. I strongly suspect that will be repeated on most circuits.

Third, we must not be complacent but seize the chance now to plan very specific reforms, as I have argued for some time.

Fourth, there is a very clear distinction between honest honorable passionate disagreement shown eg in one letter of resignation and offensive personal attacks. It is amazing that anyone needs to say this about fellow barristers. But perhaps it is an indication that we all need to calm down and remember how we make our names – by reason and persuasion.
Nigel Pascoe


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