Carr urges KCs to give juniors oral advocacy opportunities

Carr: Developing junior advocates is in the public interest

The Lady Chief Justice has urged senior barristers to give their junior counsel chances to speak in court, both for their own development and the future diversity of the judiciary.

Speaking at the Bar Council annual conference on Saturday, Baroness Carr also encouraged barristers to report judicial misconduct.

She told the London event that it was “of crucial importance” that junior counsel were given the opportunity to develop their oral advocacy skills before the courts.

“It is all the more important for another reason. Developing these skills is also a means by which we can counteract the continued under-representation of women amongst the ranks of our leading advocates.

“And, as our leading advocates – along with leading members of the solicitors’ profession – are the judges of the future, we need to ensure that all efforts are taken to secure as diverse a field of leading advocates as possible.”

She pointed to guidance issued by the senior judiciary last November on the involvement of junior counsel in advocacy, saying KCs should lead the way in talking to instructing solicitors and clients about this

“I would very much encourage you all then to consider when a suitable opportunity arises for you to enable junior counsel to address a court or tribunal when they are being led…

“I very much hope to see many juniors developing in this way in the near future, and – of course – the benefits that will come from that in the years to come. Developing junior advocates in this way is, in this way, very much in the public interest.”

In April, a High Court judge expressed his “delight” that all the leading counsel in a major claim brought by investors in a failed film tax scheme delegated significant portions of the oral advocacy to their juniors.

Also in her speech, Baroness Carr said “you must keep judges on trial while they are sitting in judgment”.

She continued: “That is perhaps not always easy. Judges, at times, can be trying. We are human, after all. And just like you we are all too often working under intense pressure.

“But if a judge oversteps the mark, that is when vigilance and courage come to the fore.”

She acknowledged that it took courage to challenge a judge in such circumstances. “You not only should, but your duty to your client and to the rule of law requires it. The judiciary as an institution requires it.

“Confidence in the judiciary depends on judges not only doing justice but being seen to do so… Effective reporting is the starting point for improvement.”

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