Grand Council of the Bar – Minutes of Meeting – 23 November 2007 A.D
Sir Harry Harries SC AO QC RFD — Chairman (apology)
St John QC — Vice Chairman
de Q. Potts
Ng (under three years)
In attendance: The Bursar
1. Minutes of the meeting of 18 October 2007 A.D. confirmed.
2. Matters arising from the minutes:
a. One member stated that he had learned (from a source who must remain confidential) that the Council’s resolution, communicated to the Judiciary, that henceforth judges (and their wives) would be obliged to pay subscriptions for attendance at Bar functions had been ill-received in certain quarters. It was suggested by another member that the fierce independence of the Bar required nothing less than a trenchant rejoinder to any such incursion. Another member suggested that one way round the problem might be to lower the quality of wines offered to members of the Bar at such functions even further. It was generally accepted that this was not realistically achievable. The matter was adjourned for further discussion sine die.
b. There were no other matters.
3. Miss Beauchamp reported that as a result of the complaints received from several judges concerning the mode of dress of female barristers, and the resolution of the Council at its last meeting that an urgent ethical rule be formulated concerning the matter, and whereupon she had been requested to formulate such a rule, the following was now offered as a suitable such rule based upon the precedent in Conduct and Etiquette at the Bar, Boulton, B.A., of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-Law, Secretary to the General Council of the Bar, 3rd ed. :
“Women barristers should wear ordinary gowns and wigs which should completely cover and conceal the hair, and bands. Dress should be plain, black or very dark, high to the neck with long sleeves, and not shorter than the gown with high plain white collar. Alternatively, plain coats and skirts may be worn black or very dark, not shorter than the gown, with plain white shirts and high collars.”
MOVED: that the rule be adopted
4. It had come to the Council’s attention a Government Minister had criticised a barrister who had published to a reporter a record of interview between his client and a constable of police in order (so it was said) to counter the misleading disclosure of similar materials by a member of the prosecution staff. It was MOVED that the Chairman ought to have a word with the barrister and remind him of the following rule:
A barrister who has retired from practice may write memoirs of his experience at the Bar, using his discretion and remembering the feelings of persons who were concerned in cases, but not otherwise.
ADOPTED (nem. con.)
5. It had come to the attention of the Council that Pillock QC had, yet again, devilled a brief in a murder trial. Such conduct was in breach of Rule 303 which provides and did provide at all times material as follows:
“Under no circumstances should a brief for the defence in a murder trial be devilled.”
This rule, too, had as its precedent a Rule of the English Bar cited in Boulton, ibid.
One member foreshadowed a motion to refer the matter to the Disciplinary Sub-Committee. After further discussion, however, it was resolved that the Chairman would have (yet another) word with him.
6. The Vice-Chairman informed those present that the Chairman told him that he had frequently observed the slovenly behaviour of certain utter barristers, particularly those very junior. He wished the Council to consider for adoption, as a beginning assault upon this fundamental issue that goes to the root of the Bar, the following to be adopted as Rules of Conduct:
a. It is undesirable for junior members of chambers to attend (other than on Saturdays after 4 o’clock or on Sundays) in mufti
b. The wearing of ties disclosing affiliation with sporting clubs (not excluding the Jockey Club) is discouraged.
There was vigorous debate.
7. The Vice Chairman informed those present that, as had been foreshadowed, he and the Chairman, as well as certain other invited participants, had met at the Club on 30th ult. and had resolved upon a certain matter.
a. It was MOVED to ratify the decision.
b. Beauchamp (Miss) requested that a copy of the minutes of the informal meeting be provided.
c. It was pointed out that, as the discussions were ‘in club’, that that would not be possible.
d. MOTION ADOPTED (one absention)
8. There being no other business, the Council was adjourned sine die.