The state of legal aid — my speech to the Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Thank you for inviting me to speak – in the best traditions of these things, this event created online controversy before it even started

Twitter users questioned fee for an online event on the future of hard-pressed legal aid lawyers – a fee I’m told it would take junior legal aid at least three days to earn.

I’m told by organisers there are free and reduced priced tickets.

I’ve been asked to speak on the state of legal aid – I’d like to thank the Legal Practitioners Group, the Legal Action group, Law centres network, Support through Court, the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association and Inquest for their help in preparing this

I want to focus on the people who need help from legal aid

The Westminster Inquiry into legal aid heard powerful testimony last month from three individuals helped by legal aid – but only after all had put up a fight to get the funding – or at least some of it.

Angela Pownall, whose son Arian Jennings became acutely mentally unwell and took his life, was put in touch with a solicitor through the charity Inquest, to represent her at the inquest into her son’s death.

Greater Manchester Police, Penine Care and the Acute Trust, were all represented by barristers.

Two days before the 9-day inquest, Angela was told that the legal aid application had not been processed, which meant the barrister would not be able to attend the inquest.

It took a nudge from the coroner, the LAA part-funded her representation. To fund the rest, Angela had to use money that she had borrowed from a family member – money she had intended to use to fund her son’s funeral.

Without a lawyer and facing the legal teams for the hospitals and the police, all seeking to protect their own reputations rather than find out what had gone wrong with her son’s care, Angela would not have been able to deal with the inquest – grieving for her son, and when there were some days she could not shower.

She quite reasonably asked whether anyone would have been able to go to court and hear about their child’s autopsy and last moments, and then been able to ask questions of the witnesses.

Pam Coughlan was very seriously injured in a road accident. She and 11 other disabled residents of a large NHS house were promised a ‘home for life’ if they moved to a brand new state of the art NHS facility.

Her care was provided by the NHS until, in the 1990s, the North and East Devon Health Authority tried to transfer responsibility for her care to Social Services – which would have meant she and all the other residents had to move, and have to pay for their won social care.

With the help of legal aid lawyer, Nicola Mackintosh, she brought a judicial review case, which enabled her to stay in her home and established nursing care was health care and not the responsibility of social services.

Stephen Tyler is a physically disabled man with three small children who became wheelchair bound. His family were evicted from their private rented accommodation having asked for reasonable adjustments to be made to accommodate Stephen’s disability.

Despite offers of temporary accommodation by Birmingham City Council, the family found themselves homeless. Stephen’s wife and children were able to stay with her family, but because of his wheelchair Stephen was unable to access the property and had to sleep in his car.

The family looked for private accommodation to rent but were rejected again and again because landlords did not want to accept housing benefits.

With the involvement of rose Arnall, a lawyer at Shelter, Stephen brought a case against one of the estate agents that discriminated against him on account of his benefits

All of these people have had to fight for funding – at extremently stressful times in the lives

Without expert lawyers they would have been unable to achieve the outcomes that they did.

These are some of the people who have been helped by legal aid. Because legal aid is about people.

People who need legal aid, do not chose to have legal problems – a mother does not chose to have to try to find out what went wrong with his dead son’s care, people do not chose to have to fight for a roof over their head or to have their care needs met.

Many who find themselves in need of legal help are there because they have been let down by the state or others – their children have not been given the support they need for their schooling and development, the DWP have incorrectly stopped their benefits, which also leads to issues with their tenancy and may lead to them facing eviction.

All to often the legal aid debate is framed solely around lawyers fees – with the government and its ministers cynically and unfairly casting aspurtians on these fat-cat, do-good, lefty, actist lega aid lawyers.

They do not and would not dare to make the same attack on nurses, doctors and teachers – you do not hear them talking about nurses intervening at the last minute to save lives, or teachers doing all they can to help children pass their exams.

So why attack lawyer who intervene to help people?

But, believe it or not – those three people – Angela,  Pam and Stephen are the fortunate ones – hundreds of thousands of people are denied legal aid due to cuts intorduced by the LASPO, which removed many areas of law from public funding.

Most social welfare law (education, employment, debt, housing, immigration and welfare benefits) and private law children and family cases are now out of scope.

Even where areas of law are still covered, people have to be pretty much destitute to get legal aid – under the means test that has not been updated for years

This has forced more people into a situation where, if they wish to access justice, they must do so without legal representation.

Some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised members of our society have been hardest hit by the changes. Legal troubles are often compounded by additional disadvantages such as language barriers, and mental or physical disability.

The lack of access to early legal advice often means that cases have become more complicated and urgent by the time they do each lawyers.

Support Through Court — formerly The Personal Support Unit–  a charity that supports people who have to represent themselves in court, says demand for its services have sky-rocketed.

The cuts have created the advice deserts:

Over a third of the population live in local authorities which do not have a single housing legal aid provider

There are just 8 firms in England and wales with a legal aid contract for Special educational needs cases

They have also caused widespread miscarriages of justice, the draining of the talent pool of future lawyers and judges as young people increasingly choose a career away from legal aid and burn out among who are left due to year of financial stress and emotional pressure.

If you want me to talk about money, instead of people I’m happy to do that.

I attended a virtual event the other day – I think it was during the LAPG conference – the legal aid minister, Alex Chaulk said there needed to be evidence for an increase in legal aid, showing the benefit of early legal advice

For as long as I’ve been a journalist I have written about reports detailing the evidence base for legal aid and the devastating impact of cuts:

The bach commission, the low commission, the PAC, the justice committee, the bar council, the law society, LAPG Justice,

Legal aid for early legal advice saves money

Research by the Legal Action Group has demonstrated that every £1 spent on legal aid advice saves the state £6.

Law Centres calculated that in a single year they add £43m to the economy in keeping people employed, paying taxes etc.

Where there is a political will, money is available. The money for civil legal aid is a small change for Government, it could be doubled, and it would hardly be noticed by the treasury.

In 2010, annual expenditure for the civil and criminal justice system stood at approximately £2bn per annum, which equates to the cost of running the NHS for a fortnight.

Now, it is approximately £1.5bn a year

The government is willing to spend £37bn on track and trace

£849m on eat out to help out – no evidence base required

It is happy to fund lawyers to represent it when it finds itself before the courts — I James Eadie QC works for legal aid rates

in a recent legal challenge over the government’s commissioning of PPE, the government told the court the bill for its lawyers would be £1M

Turning briefly to crime – that can be summed up in short order – cuts, court closures, reduced sitting days – and then cam covid. Not the backlog has reached an all time high with more than 55,000 cases in the crown court, trials listed for 2023 and warnings about miscarriages of justice

What the figures do not convey is the sheer human misery– Cuts to legal aid are literally making people sick – and costing lives.

With the help of Tom at legal cheek – I have created my own Hancock style banner  — which I think may have been displayed while I have been speaking

It is the plea to government of all legal aid lawyers, civil and criminal, and those who need their help – fund legal aid, do justice, save lives.



We are endeavouring to put in place measures to ensure that the requirement for attendance at court is minimised for all. There is significant scope to do this under our present powers.

The Coronavirus Bill contains extensive new powers to hold remote hearings. When the Bill is passed, we will update this guidance and will endeavour to review all cases and make live link directions decisions where appropriate.

Where attendance at court is unavoidable, a distance of 6ft/2m from others should be maintained in accordance with government guidance.

We urge those who are vulnerable to contact us in advance of any hearing listed for personal attendance to discuss an alternative to attendance at court.

We will try the measures set out below:

  1. We will hold as many pre-trial hearings as possible by telephone or by Skype. We have 3 spider phones and we are still new to Skype. ( Our focus for now is on the spider phones whilst we work to achieve Skype).
  2. We will review all forthcoming pre-trial hearings and assess them for suitability for hearing by telephone or video link.
  3. Pre-trial hearings which are potentially suitable for remote hearing (audio or video) include:
  • PTPHs
  • FCMHs
  • Compliance hearings
  • Preparatory hearings
  • Applications to stay for abuse of process
  • Applications for joinder or severance
  • Applications for indication of sentence
  • Intermediary applications
  • Ground rules hearings
  • Uncontested bail applications
  • Defendant’s contested bail applications: if D has waived his right to attend, or if D attends via video link, or if D was present when bail was previously withheld and has been in custody continuously since then
  • Prosecution contested appeal against grant of bail: if D has waived his right to attend, or if D attends via video link, or if the court is satisfied that it would be just to proceed even though the defendant is absent
  • Custody time limit extension applications: if D has waived his right to attend, or if D attends via video link, or if the court is satisfied that it would be just to proceed even though the defendant is absent
  1. Pre-trial hearings held by telephone or Skype will be administered by a clerk, in a courtroom, and will be recorded on DARTS or on the Spiderphone system. Judges will not necessarily be present in Court.
  2. Where a direction is made for a pre-trial hearing to be heard by telephone or video link we will ensure that dial-in or Skype details are at the top of the widely shared comments section of the DCS. Please use these details and ensure that you attend the hearing promptly.
  3. Advocates should make a special effort to liaise in advance to cover the issues that would otherwise have been addressed at court before the hearing and to ensure that any documents are uploaded in good time. The list will need to run to time.
  4. Hearings will continue to operate in “open court” and public access will be available. The following guidance does not prohibit anyone from attending a hearing in person.
  5. Advocates who are in the building may come into a courtroom for a telephone hearing, rather than dialing-in, but are encouraged not to do so unless it is necessary.
  6. Advocates who are in the building may come into a courtroom for a Skype hearing (although they will need their own Skype facility), but are encouraged not to do so unless it is necessary.
  7. There may be circumstances where a defence advocate needs to be in the courtroom with the defendant for a pre-trial hearing. If others are attending the hearing by Skype hearing, the advocate should make their own Skype facility available, as the Court’s facility will be used for the defendant.
  8. We will review all forthcoming sentencing hearings for defendants in custody and assess whether it would be appropriate for D to attend via video link. In the event that the Court decides that D’s attendance via PVL is appropriate, we will endeavour to secure a PVL slot rather than having D brought to court, to reduce the exposure of our staff and of the prison population, even if this necessitates an adjournment. At present, all other participants will be required to attend in person.
  9. Trials at Harrow are currently suspended. We will identify the trials that we are going to list first when jury service resumes, and list them for a PTR to consider giving further directions in relation to participation by live link.
  10. We will review all other listed hearings, including appeals and sentencing hearings for defendants on bail, to decide whether the hearing should be adjourned to a date after the anticipated amendments to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 come into force. It may be appropriate to adjourn rather than to hold an attended hearing before that date if the hearing is one for which the Court would have the power to make live link directions with the objective of reducing attendance at court.
  11. Anyone who wishes to wear a mask during court proceedings is welcome to do so. We will endeavour to deal sensitively with any issue as to security, identification, or people making themselves heard.
  12. In courts with more than one case listed advocates and defendants are not expected to be in court before the case is called on. Please be available in the general vicinity of the court when your case is due to be called on.
  13. The lists will have additional time markers to separate cases and to reduce waiting time at court for all participants. When you have finished a case please leave the courtroom promptly so that the following case can be called on.
  14. Advocates should generally avoid the front row of benches to maintain separation from the clerk. Advocates are invited to spread out to any appropriate position so as to achieve distance between participants in a hearing. If you are further from a microphone than usual, please be aware that you will need to speak up to ensure that recording and amplification into the dock are effective.
  15. No paper documents should be passed around at any hearing. In light of the Bar Council guidance on litigation, I formally give my permission to any advocate to upload materials required for their case to DCS.
  16. Officers in the case will not be required to attend for non-trial hearings: the default position when an officer is required will be for them to be available by telephone.

20. Interpreters are encouraged to sit further from the person for whom they are   interpreting than would be normal.

  1. In hearings where a defendant is on bail, and there is no immediate prospect of bail being withdrawn, defendants will not be required to surrender to the dock, to reduce the exposure of our dock officers.

22.Witness Support is not operating at the moment, so our court staff are having to look after any witnesses who attend.

What you can do to help:

23.Please review your cases listed for trial, and communicate with the other party, to explore any possibility of resolution without trial.

24.Please be pro-active in alerting the court if you think it is appropriate for any hearing to be heard remotely.

  1. If there is information known to you which would assist the court, please let us know: for instance, if the defendant does not wish to attend a contested bail hearing or a custody time limit extension application, we would be able to list those applications as a remote hearing.

26.Your duty to actively assist the court in fulfilling its duty to actively manage the case includes under CPR 3.3(2)(e), a duty to alert the court to any reason why a live link direction in relation to a pre-trial hearing should not be made, or should be varied or revoked.

  1. Please assist our staff where you can, and in particular help them to maintain their distance.

28.If members of the public attend in support of a defendant and you have the opportunity, please ask them to sit apart from each other in the public gallery.

If you have any further suggestions as to how we might improve these proposals, please email the Harrow Crown Court, and mark your email for the attention of HHJ Dean.

HHJ Rosa Dean Harrow Crown Court

23rd March 2020


Updated guidance from lord chief justice – Coronavirus

The lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, issued this guidance at 7am:

Events have continued to move at great speed. I indicated during the course of last week that we would keep them under review. As the Prime Minister has been telling the country, the spread of Covid 19 has continued to accelerate. The clear message from Government is to take all precautions to avoid unnecessary contact. A review of the arrangements in our courts is called for. This short statement comes late on Sunday to judges, and more widely, to provide some clarity for the coming few days.

We have put in place arrangements to use telephone, video and other technology to continue as many hearings as possible remotely. We will make best possible use of the equipment currently available; HMCTS is working round the clock to update and add to that. Some hearings, the most obvious being jury trials, cannot be conducted remotely.

Crown Courts

1.My unequivocal position if that no jury trials or other physical hearings can take place unless it is safe for them to do so.

2. This morning no new trials are to start. Jurors summoned for this week are being contacted to ask them to remain at home, and contact the court they are due to attend. They will only be asked to come in for trials where specific arrangements to ensure safety have been put in place. In some cases, this may mean that jurors may be called in to start a new trial later on Monday.  All hearings in the Crown Court that can lawfully take place remotely should do so and other hearings not involving a jury should continue if suitable arrangements can be made to ensure distancing.

3. Efforts to bring existing jury trials to a conclusion should continue. Social distancing in accordance with PHE guidelines must be in place at all times and at all places within the court building. Considerable imagination and flexibility may be needed to achieve that. This is already happening in some Crown Courts. HMCTS are working to make good deficiencies in basic hand washing and sanitising facilities.  If it is necessary to adjourn trials already underway for a short period to put those safety measures in place, this must be done.

4.HMCTS will continue to work to ensure that safety measures are in place in all parts of the court building in which trials are already taking place.  The basic hygiene arrangements urged upon us by the Prime Minister must be available.  Resident Judges, with their staff, will determine whether a trial can safely be continued.


5.The same considerations apply to Magistrates’ Courts. Magistrates’ Courts will need to continue to deal with urgent work, in accordance with guidance given by the Senior Magistrate to judges and staff. They are the first court to which all criminal cases are referred. All hearings that can lawfully take place remotely should do so if the facilities exist.

Civil and Family Courts

6.Guidance has already been given about the use of remote hearings.  Hearings requiring the physical presence of parties and their representatives and others should only take place if a remote hearing is not possible and if suitable arrangements can be made to ensure safety.

This guidance will be updated, as events develop.”


WEEKEND UPDATE Covid-19 Stakeholder Update from the Ministry of Justice

This update was sent out by the Ministry of Justice:

This is the Ministry of Justice’s regular stakeholder communications update service. This is intended to signpost the latest Covid-19 guidance and central government updates.

We would find it helpful to know about your own communications plans and any intel that will help inform our communications moving forwards. If you know an organisation which should to be added to the list please do get in touch at or

We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those people who have been in touch this week providing intel and feedback, enabling us to improve our communications. Please do keep sending through your resources and ideas.

Please find today’s update below.

We have robust and well-established plans to ensure we can continue to deliver key services across the justice system. Legislation is being sought through an emergency bill in response to the virus that could extend the circumstances in which a court can direct the use of audio or video links. Prisons are well prepared to take immediate action wherever cases or suspected cases are identified, including the isolation of individuals where necessary.

NEW: Clarification on legal practitioners covered by key worker category The Government has confirmed that keyworkers include those “essential to the running of the justice system”. On Friday, the Ministry of Justice shared a list of key workers within this category.

We would like to provide further clarification of those legal practitioners covered within this category who are essential to the running of the justice system, and, in particular, the courts and tribunals:

· Advocates (including solicitor advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors

· Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice including duty solicitors (police station and court) and barristers, solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings

· Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills

· Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty

Only legal practitioners who work on the types of matters, cases and hearings listed above, will be permitted to be classified as a keyworker.

In addition, some legal practitioners will intermittently fall into this category because they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating, for example, to safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, or a public safety matter. For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be a key worker.

As the Government has said, many parents who are key workers may be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child that can safely be cared for at home, should be.

As events evolve this guidance may change. Please ensure you regularly check this and other Government guidance for the most up to date information.


HMPPS has been working closely with Public Health and NHS services, as well as criminal justice partners, to put robust contingency plans in place. The plans prioritise the safety of staff, prisoners, visitors and offenders under supervision in the community, whilst seeking to minimise disruption to normal services and ensure public protection. The following page will continue to be updated when new advice is available:


During this unprecedented public health emergency, it’s essential that our courts and tribunals continue to administer justice. We are adjusting practices and taking steps to minimise any risk to the judiciary, court staff and users. Any changes to individual hearings will be communicated directly to those affected in the usual way, by email and/or phone. The following page will continue to be updated when new advice is available:

Latest general guidance NEW Major new measures to protect people at highest risk from Coronavirus –

Guidance for businesses –

Home isolation / ‘stay at home’ guidance –

Social distancing / vulnerable people –

Please continue to refer to GOV.UK/coronavirus for the latest information on the situation in the UK and the Government’s response. For information about the illness and symptoms visit

Suggested Emergency Protocol during COVID-19 Outbreak from the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association

During the current epidemic, the criminal justice community must do what we can to keep the justice system going, but in a way which does not ignore the pleas from NHS workers, who are risking their lives to keep us safe.

In order to stem the spread of the virus, our courts and police stations must urgently adopt the following measures:

1. Delay non-urgent cases

Adjourn non-urgent criminal cases for 2 months. Criteria for ‘non urgent’ to be agreed with professional bodies, Senior Judiciary, HMCTS and MOJ.

2. Adopt remote hearings

Urgent hearings to be temporarily conducted by video or telephone where possible so long as fair trial rights are maintained. These technologies to be urgently improved and expanded to allow non-urgent hearings to be phased back after 2 months.

3. Prioritise arrest cases

Arrests to be reserved for essential cases only, with an increased use of street bail. Voluntary interviews and postal requisitions to be delayed where possible.

4. Avoid physical attendance

If the detention of suspects is necessary, solicitors and appropriate adults to be permitted to attend via video-link, using facilities already in place for translators.

5. Make facilities safe

Where physical attendance at court or police stations is required, Covid-19 risk assessment of defendants to be carried out and all relevant parties provided with a copy, regular deep cleans of all facilitates, and hand

Coronavirus – From the recorder of Preston

This was issued today by the recorder of Preston.

To the Barristers & Solicitors Practising in the Lancashire Crown Courts

Dear all,

Please forgive the impersonal nature of this message and I hope you will understand it is impossible to contact everyone directly. It has indeed been a dramatic week and the impact of the Covid-19 virus will be significant on the legal profession.

The judiciary appreciates that many of you will be concerned and anxious about the future. This message is intended to inform you what is happening in the Lancashire Crown Courts and the way in which we are planning to deal with the work. Of course, the situation is changing rapidly so that any planning will have to take account of a moving landscape.

Following the Prime Minister’s Statement on Monday (16th March), the Lord Chief Justice decided that all trials of 3 days+ listed before the 30th April should not go ahead.

In Lancashire there are 39 trials falling into this category of which 11 are custody cases. These 39 cases represent a significant proportion of the trial work and for this reason there are no trials listed on Monday (23rd March). It is planned that in the coming week probably on Thursday and Friday (26th and 27th March) the cases will be listed for mention and fix when there can be a stock-take about them.

Any defendants in custody will appear over the prison video link so custody time limits can be considered and if any of you wish for defendants on bail to attend, then please inform the Preston daily listing officer.

A final decision has not been made about the relisting of the work though at present it appears cases up to 5 days can be listed in October. My concern is that some cases will already have been delayed and it may be unfair they are being pushed back to later in the year. Also, if the Lord Chief Justice was to decide that all trials should not be listed then the whole situation will have to be reviewed.

If it is possible for any of the cases to be resolved, then the judges will assist within the normal parameters available to them. The advantage of the cases being listed in this way is that you can have an influence on a new date.

There are other practical challenges which have arisen during the last week. You will probably have heard the Witness Service will not be operating from Monday (23rd March) because a lot of the volunteers are over 70 years old. The burden of managing witnesses will inevitably fall on the CPS or defence. HMCTS has directed that court and administrative staff who are either over 70 or have a relevant underlying health condition should self-isolate for the next 12 weeks.

A large proportion of the Lancashire staff fall into this group and it means the staff will be significantly depleted. We will only be able to operate around five Crown Courts because of insufficient ushers/court clerks. It has been decided the work should be centralised at Ringway because it will be easier to manage. Therefore, it is likely the other Crown Courts will not be used, and it is appreciated this will have a big impact though it is hoped it will only be a short-term measure.

The other change is the caterers at Ringway will not be providing a service on Monday (23rd March) when they will be reviewing their position. Given the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (20th March) about cafes and restaurants being closed, it may affect them as well so Ringway may lose them until the crisis is over.

The administrative staff are continuing to receive many requests from witnesses and defendants who are seeking excusal from attending court. Every request will be considered on its merits and the guidance issued by the Senior Presiding Judge is being applied. It is likely many of the cases will be listed for a hearing so a new trial date can be fixed.

No final decision has been made about when the cases might be relisted and if there is a hearing then you can have a say about it. Again, if you think it might be possible for a case to be resolved so wish a defendant to attend the hearing, do inform the listing officer.

Finally, some barristers or solicitor advocates have made requests to appear at hearings by video link or telephone. The listing officer has been informed that any request to appear over video link should be granted if possible but please appreciate it does create extra burdens for the staff. That is why the use of video link this way has been restricted but given the current crisis the practice has been relaxed. Nonetheless, the staff is depleted and do understand that if there are many requests it may not be possible to grant them all.

Although telephone hearings may be suitable for civil or family justice work, at the present time the criminal courtrooms are not really equipped for it and such requests will not be granted.

You are encouraged to ensure you have Skype Business because it is likely that in the coming weeks there will be greater use of it in the Crown Courts.

Your commitment and dedication helping to keep the Lancashire Crown Courts operating is much appreciated. My philosophy is that the Crown Court is the ‘sum of the parts’ and you have a critical role ensuring it continues to function. It is vital you remain healthy and virus free and I urge you to follow the Government advice about it.

You have my best wishes as you face a challenging and difficult time ahead and you can be assured the judges will do what they can to support you.

Mark Brown

His Honour Judge Mark Brown Resident Judge for Lancashire and Recorder of Preston

Addendum: We have tried to fill the gaps with appeal cases but the virus is having an impact on the availability of magistrates. Also, sentences often need pre-sentence reports and the Probation Service is facing the same challenges over staffing.

From the lord chief justice – COVID-19

This note was sent from the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, this morning:

Civil and Family Courts: Covid-19

Events have been moving so fast that detailed guidance on how to sustain the administration of justice in these two important jurisdictions would be overtaken by developments very quickly.

We have an obligation to continue with the work of the courts as a vital public service, just as others in the public sector and in the private sector are doing.  But as I have said before, it will not be business as usual.

Yesterday’s announcement that schools will be closing three weeks early coupled with the need for those over 70 and with health problems to stay at home will have an immediate impact on the ability and willingness of people to attend courts and tribunals.

We are making arrangements to include those working in the courts within the scope of key workers who will be able to continue to send their children to schools. Further information about that will come later.

The rules in both the civil and family courts are flexible enough to enable telephone and video hearings of almost everything. Any legal impediments will be dealt with.

HMCTS are working urgently on expanding the availability of technology but in the meantime we have phones, some video facilities and Skype. User information on Skype is on the intranet and otherwise widely available. Further work is being done is being done in connection with the criminal courts.

Both YouTube and written guidance on how to use Skype are now up on the rolling COVID-19 Judicial Intranet page. You can find it here: under the heading ‘Using Skype’.

The default position now in all jurisdictions must be that hearings should be conducted with one, more than one or all participants attending remotely. That will not always be possible. Sensible precautions should be taken when people attend a hearing. They are now well-known. We all take them when out of the home. There will be bumps along the road as we all get used to new ways of working forced on us by the biggest public health emergency the world has faced for a century.

Many more procedural matters may be resolved on paper within the rules.

You will all have been following the detail of the government’s advice and the science on which it is based. It is clear that this pandemic will not be a phenomenon that continues only for a few weeks. At the best it will suppress the normal functioning of society for many months. For that reason, we all need to recognise that we will be using technology to conduct business which even a month ago would have been unthinkable.  Final hearings and hearings with contested evidence very shortly will inevitably be conducted using technology. Otherwise, there will be no hearings and access to justice will become a mirage. Even now we have to be thinking about the inevitable backlogs and delays that are building in the system and will build to an intolerable level if too much court business is simply adjourned.

I would urge all before agreeing to adjourn any hearing to use available time to explore with the parties the possibility for compromise.

Some outline guidance follows:

Designated Civil Judges and Designated Family Judges should work with operational staff and listing staff to establish priorities and to consider how hearings can continue to take place as safely as possible.

Social distancing

Local practices will need to take account of variations in court facilities and the range of work that the court handles. The leadership judges with local HMCTS managers are best placed to consider local arrangements and will be supported by the Presiding Judges and Senior Judiciary in finding solutions that allow for civil court business to continue in a safe environment including making necessary adjustments to avoid large numbers of members of the public congregating in small waiting areas.  Telephone and video hearings will help. So too might avoiding or reducing block listing; identifying empty courts or other areas that can be used for waiting; if necessary, requiring people to wait outside until called.  Whatever solutions are identified, people must not be required to wait in close proximity to one another.

Litigants in person

Unrepresented parties may have difficulty with telephone hearings.  Sensitivity will be required.  It is very unlikely that a telephone hearing would work if a litigant in person is:

  • homeless;
  • chaotic because of alcohol or drug use;
  • has learning disabilities;
  • has significant mental health issues;
  • or has other needs or disabilities which would militate against telephone hearings.

We expect the full co-operation of the legal profession to facilitate telephone hearings as hitherto. Indeed, the professions willingness to be imaginative in the use of remote technology is clear from discussions I have had with the President of the Law Society and Chair of the Bar Council.

Trials and hearings involving live evidence

The Rules allow evidence to be received by telephone, video-link etc.

It may be difficult to maintain trials and final hearings in the short term, not least because of the inability of people to participate at all.  As events develop individual decisions on priorities and practicalities will have to be made.  The message is to do what can be done safely

Civil and Family court business must be sensitive to other priorities for people’s time.  Many people are in critical jobs (e.g. NHS, Police) and will need to be elsewhere.

Prioritising work

Designated Civil Judges and Designated Family Judges will need to work with operational and listing staff to identify local priorities, taking account of the availability of resources and the practical arrangements that can be implemented safely. All judges are to be encouraged to think creatively about solutions to maximise social distancing while allowing as much court business as possible to continue in a safe environment. Judges should be deployed as efficiently as possible at all times.

Listing officers will undoubtedly face significant challenges. To assist them as much as possible, some pragmatic decisions will have to be taken, for example as to classes of non-urgent work that simply cannot be accommodated where the default position will be to remove such work from the list.

Civil Aspects

Possession Proceedings

It is likely that the emergency legislation will affect this area of work.  But it is obvious that particular sensitivity is needed irrespective of that. Applications to suspend warrants of possession should be prioritised.

Block listing of possession claims is inappropriate at this time because it would be difficult to maintain appropriate social distancing.

Judges dealing with any possession claim during the crisis must have in mind the public health guidance and should not make an order that risks impacting on public health.

Injunctions and committal hearings

Applications for injunctions and committal are likely to be urgent and such work will need to be prioritised.

Applications for breach of an injunction or undertakings are unlikely to be suitable for telephone hearing.  Such applications are likely to be urgent and to require priority. Arrangements will be required for the safe hearing of such applications.

Civil Appeals

Most applications for permission to appeal, including oral reconsiderations, are likely to be suitable for telephone hearing, subject to practical arrangements and the observations above as to litigants in person.

Final appeals may be suitable for hearing by telephone.

Family Matters

The President of the Family Division is providing a more detailed document to assist judges sitting in the Family Court.


Particular problems are likely to be encountered in both the Magistrates’ Courts and the Crown Courts to which careful thought is being given.

The Lord Burnett of Maldon
Lord Chief Justice

• The judiciary has finally published this on its website:

Coronavirus: “By continuing to work I may kill one or both of the people most dear to me”

This is an email sent to me by a police station lawyer, who asked not to be named, who is facing the dilemma of needing to work and earn money during the coronavirus outbreak, while knowing that in doing so she is putting herself and her son at risk 

I am 59 years old, I suffer from pre-hypertension which is mostly controlled with medication.  I care for an adult son who suffers from chronic asthma and is currently unable to work because of it.

I am the only breadwinner in my household. I own my own modest home, but on mortgage. I have no surviving parents, or older relatives, no trust fund, no inheritance (my parents were both in full time care at the end of their lives due to dementia. Their property and lifetime’s savings paid for that care, then my little savings). I care for a friend and neighbour who has no near relatives and has had a double lung transplant.

I am a police station rep. I work in a criminal defence solicitor’s office 9-5.30, a minimum of 3 days a week. I am then on call 2-3 days a week. Being on call means a shift of 24 hrs from 9am to 9am. During that time I am contacted by the Defence Solicitors Call Centre to alert me to clients who have been arrested, detained, and have asked for legal representation. I then liaise with the police and attend various police stations in my area to advise the clients and represent them in interview.

I frequently work all night and then go straight into the office for another full day.  About once a month I can work 48hrs straight. I have done 72, but that is my limit!  The police work in shifts, so interviews can take place at any time, day or night.

I am by no means unique. Every criminal law Duty Solicitor and Police Station Rep in the UK has a similar work pattern. The profession is on its knees. Most of our clients receive public funding. The rate paid to lawyers via public funding has been slashed and slashed again.

The firm in which I work is first class. Dedicated, professional, committed and supportive of staff.  They survive on the barest of margins. There is no wriggle room and hasn’t been for years.  Three other criminal law firms in my area have closed since Nov 19. Two others have moved from crime to general practice since the New Year.

Without attending clients in custody my firm would generate very little work. However, the current pandemic is putting our lives and our families lives at risk. Many of the clients we represent are vulnerable, mentally or through drink and/or drugs. Many are homeless. Any form of hygiene is not even a consideration in their chaotic lives. Their immune systems will be compromised as a result of their lifestyles. Many 25 year olds could easily pass for 50. The chances of them catching the virus is, I imagine, very high.

We are often locked in a less than clean, windowless consultation room with our clients. We are in very close proximity, sometimes for hours. Often clients cannot wash or change as they are required to provide samples and must receive legal advice beforehand. They are often literally basted in their own, and sometimes other’s, bodily fluids. Custody centres and cells are never the most fragrant or clean areas. They are not built for comfort!  Some are far worse than others and some are old and dilapidated, making them even harder to keep clean. The police officers and custody staff are equally at risk of course.

I am not looking for sympathy. This is the job I chose and I love it, despite the many challenges. I have never met a criminal defence lawyer who was not completely devoted to their clients and their work, and believe me, it is not for financial reward.

So the dilemma I and many others face is, do we self isolate and protect ourselves and our families from the potential risk of infection from our workplace, or do we continue to represent our clients in their need, and therefore also ensure that we have a firm and a job to return to when, and if, the nightmare ends?

As a rep I am not bound by the rules to which Duty Solicitors must adhere. They must complete a certain number of advocacy hours per week in order to even continue practising. That rule has not been relaxed.

To date there has been no guidance from the Law Society, The Legal Aid Agency or The Ministry of Justice about working practice and how we should protect ourselves, apart from washing hands.  My firm provides hand sanitiser, wipes, antibacterial soap, etc, which is more than most. I sanitise everything, myself, my equipment, anything that has been touched by hand between each client, during each room change and after leaving … but is it really enough?

There have been three scares at two custody suites in my area over the last fortnight, where a detained person has presented with possible symptoms of COVID 19. We have never been updated as to outcome.  To provide that information would apparently breach confidentiality?!  The building is simply re-opened and we carry on. To what end?  With what consequence?

I need to support my household and provide a roof, heat, light, food. I need to care for my son and I choose to care for my neighbour. By continuing to work I may kill one or both of the people most dear to me, or die myself and leave them without support.

Worrying and dangerous times.

The complete list of women QCs

1. Helena Normanton 1949 Dead
2. Rose Heilbron 1949 Second Woman High Ct Judge 1974 Died 2005
3. Dorothy Knight Dix 1957 Dead
4. Elizabeth Lane 1960 County Court Judge then First Woman High Court
Judge (1965). Dead
5. Myrella Cohen 1970 Circuit Judge 1972 Retired 1997 Died 2002
6. Jean Southworth 1973 Recorder 1972-93 Retired. Died 2010
7. Patricia Coles 1974 Circuit Judge Retired Died 2005
8. Barbara Calvert 1975 Chairman Industrial Tribunal 1986 Recorder and
Deputy HCJ FD 1986-1998. Retired Lady Lowry. Died
9. Rosina Hare 1976 Died 2012
10. Margaret Booth 1976 High Court Judge FD 1979 Retired
11. Beryl Cooper 1977 Recorder 1977-1998 Retired. Died 2012
12. Joyanne Bracewell 1978 Circuit Judge 1983 HC Judge 1990 Died 2007
13. Monique Viner 1979 Circuit Judge 1990 retired 1998 Died 2006
14. Mary MacMurray 1979 Circuit Judge 1988 Died 2001
15. Elizabeth Appleby 1979 Deputy HCJ FD 1985. Recorder 1989. First female
treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn (2007) 16. Shirley Ritchie 1979 Circuit Judge 1995 [Anwyl] Retired
17. Carol Ellis 1980 CBE Consultant Editor,Law Reports.Died 2015
18. Margaret Puxon 1982 Recorder 1986-1998 Retired Died 2008
19. Eleanor Frances Platt 1982 Recorder 1982-2004 Deputy HCJ FD 1987-2004
Deputy Chairman NHS Tribunal 1995-2001. Acting
Chairman FLBA 1995.
20. Ann Goddard 1982 Circuit Judge 1993 retired 2008 Died 2011.
21. Helen Grindrod 1982 Recorder 1981-1995. Died 2002
22. Sheila Cameron 1983 Recorder Chancellor Diocese Dean of Arches 2001
23. Diana Cotton 1983 Recorder 1982- Deputy HCJ 1993-Tribunal Judge
Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeal Tribunal
and Mental Health Review Tribunal
24. Ann Curnow 1985 Recorder 1980-Retired 2009 Died 2011
25. Barbara Mills 1986 DPP 1992 Retired 1998. Died 2011
26. Rosalyn Higgins 1986 Professor. First Woman Judge in The Hague.
President of the International Court of Justice
(2006) Dame Grand Cross 2019
27. Janet Smith 1986 High Court Judge 1992 Court of Appeal 2002/3
Retired from CA 2011. Independent Assessor for
Miscarriages of Justice iJune 2011. Dame Janet
Smith Review re Jimmy Saville.
28. Mary Arden 1986 High Court Judge 1993 Court of Appeal 2000. Lady
Mance. Supreme Court October 2018
29. Hilary Heilbron 1987 Deputy High Court Judge Daughter of Rose
30. Barbara Dohmann 1987 Recorder 1990- Deputy HCJ 1994-Chairman of
Combar 1999-2001
31. Belinda Bucknall 1988 Retired. Sits as Arbitrator. Now a door tenant
32. Ann Mallalieu 1988 Baroness. Recorder 1985-93
33. Hazel Williamson 1988 Chairman ChBA 1994-7 Deputy HCJ 1994-2006
Recorder 1996-2006 Circuit Judge Specialist
Chancery 2006 Retired 2013
34. Heather Hallett 1989 Leader SE Circuit 1995-1997 Vice Chairman of the
Bar 1997 Chairman GCBar 1998 High Court Judge
1999, 2002-05 Senior Presiding Judge Western
Circuit. Court of Appeal 2005. Vice-President of
the Queen’s Bench Division 2011. Vice-President
of the Criminal Division of the Court of
Appeals, 2013
35. Clare Tritton 1988 Retired
36. Mary Hogg 1989 High Court Judge FD 1996 retired 2016
37. Brenda Hale 1989 High Court Judge FD 1994. Lady Justice of Appeal
1999 Lady [Lord] of Appeal in Ordinary 2003-
[First woman to hold this position] Head of
Supreme Court 2017 [First woman]
38. Anna Worrall 1989 Recorder 1987-2004 Retired
39. Elizabeth Lawson 1989 Recorder 1998 Deputy HCJ FD Chairman FLBA 1995-
1997 Retired 2007
40. Elizabeth Gloster 1989 P/t J CA Channel Islands Recorder 1995- 2004
High Court Judge 2004 CA 2013 First woman Judge
of Commercial Court. Court of Appeal 2013 Vice
president Civil Division December 2016 Retired
41. Anne Rafferty 1990 Chairman CBA 1995-7 (First woman chairman) High
Court Judge 2000 CA 2011
42. Genevra Caws 1991 Dead.
43. Louise Godfrey 1991 Recorder 1989-2002 Leader of NE Circuit 2001-02
Died 2002
44. Helena Kennedy 1991 Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws
45. Judith Parker 1991 High Court Judge FD 2008
46. Linda Stern 1991 Circuit Judge 2001 Died 2006
47. Patricia Scotland 1991 Baroness. Government Minister 1999
Attorney General 2007-2010
48. Presiley Baxendale 1992 Retired 2008
49. Nicola Davies 1992 Recorder 1998 HCJ QBD 2010 CA 2018
50. Lindsay Kushner 1992 Circuit Judge 2000 Retired 2017
51. Jean Ritchie 1992 Recorder 1993-2008 Retired 2006
52. Pamela Scriven 1992 Recorder 1996- Acting Chairman FLBA 1999
Chairman 1999-2001 Deputy HCJ
53. Elizabeth Slade 1992 Recorder 1998 Chairman ELBA 1995-7 DHCJ,QBD
54. Hazel Fox 1993 [Lady]. Editor International and Comparative Law
Review. Visiting Lecturer in Law, Oxford
55. Joanna Dodson 1993
56. Susan Edwards 1993
57. Joanna Korner 1993 CH 2004 Recorder 1995- 5 years as Senior
prosecuting Counsel at the Hague International
Criminal Tribunal. Circuit Judge 2012
58. Suzan Matthews 1993 Circuit Judge 2003
59. Susan Hamilton 1993 Circuit Judge 1998
60. Caroline Swift 1994 Recorder 1995- High Court Judge 2005-2015 2017
Head of MPTS
61. Marion Simmons 1994 Recorder 1998-2008 Chair Competition Tribunal.
Died May 2008
62. Sonia Proudman 1994 Recorder 2000 HCJ Chancery Division 2008
63. Joanna Greenberg 1994 Recorder 1995 Circuit Judge 2014
64. Linda Sullivan 1994 Recorder 1990 Circuit Judge 2009
65. Judith Hughes 1994 Circuit Judge 2001
66. Laura Cox 1994 High Ct Judge QBD 2002 Honorary
President of the Association of Women
Barristers. 2013 elected as Vice-President of
the UK Association of Women Judges
67. Judith Jackson 1994
68. Jill Black 1994 High Court Judge FD 1999 CA 2010 Supreme Court
69. Frances Oldham 1994 DHCJ FD Recorder
70. Alison Ball 1995 Recorder 1998
71. Nadine Radford 1995 Recorder 1995
72. Heather Swindells 1995 Recorder 1994 Deputy HCJ 2000, Circuit Judge
73. Rebecca Poulet 1995 Recorder 1995 Senior Circuit Judge 2012
74. Cherie Booth 1995 Recorder 1999
75. Florence Baron 1995 High Court Judge FD 2004 Died 2014
76. Catherine Newman 1995 Recorder 2000 Deputy High Court Judge,
Lieutenant-Bailiff of the Royal Court of
77. Anna Pauffley 1995 High Court Judge FD 2003
78. Sonia Woodley 1996 Recorder 1985
79. Rosamund Horwood-Smart 1996 Recorder 1995
80. Janet Turner 1996 2007 Heads Charity and Education Group at Taylor
81. Clare Montgomery 1996 Recorder 2000
82. Mary Vitoria 1997 Editor Patent Reports
83. Sally O’Neill 1997 Recorder 2000 Chairman CBA 2007-8
84. Elizabeth Annabel Walker 1997 Circuit Judge 2001 (HHJ Carr)
85. Sally Smith 1997 Written a book on Marshall Hall 2016
86. Lindsay Boswell 1997 Now a door tenant
87. Jennifer Kershaw 1998 Recorder 2000 Circuit Judge 2005 Died 2012
88. Wendy Joseph 1998 Recorder 1999 Circuit Judge 2007. Senior Circuit
Judge 2012
89. Jane Crowley 1998 Recorder 1995 Deputy HCJ FD 1999-
90. Margaret de Haas 1998 Recorder 1999 Circuit Judge 2003 Senior Circuit
Judge 2012
91. Joan Butler 1998 Circuit Judge 2002
92. Frances Patterson 1998 Recorder 2000 DHCJ QB and Admin Court. HCJ
QBD 2013 Died 2016.
93. Elizabeth Blackburn 1998
94. Patricia Lynch 1998 Recorder 2000 Circuit Judge 2014
95. Julia Macur 1998 Recorder 1999 HCJ FD 2005 CA 2013
96. Linda Dobbs 1998 HCJ QBD 2004 Retired 2013
97. Susanna FitzGerald 1999
98. Adrienne Page 1999 Recorder 1999 Recorder
99. Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel 1999
100. Sally Bradley 1999 Recorder DHCJ Died 2014
101. Eleanor Hamilton 1999 Recorder 2000 HCJ FD 2008 CA 2014 (King LJ)
102. Elizabeth Marsh 1999
103. Eleanor Sharpston 1999 Advocate General European Court of Justice,
Luxembourg, 2006
104. Anesta Weekes 1999 Recorder 1999
105. Kathryn Thirlwall 1999 Recorder 2000 HCJ 2010 CA 2017
106. Juliet Wheldon CB 1999 Treasury Solicitor 2000
107. Vera Baird 2000 MP Solicitor General 2007-10 Made Dame in NY
Honours 2017
108. Beverley Lang 2000 Recorder. HCJ 2011 QBD
109. Ann Cotcher 2000
110. Jane Miller 2000 Circuit Junior 2002 Circuit Judge 2010
111. Rachel Brand 2000 Recorder 2003
112. Sasha Wass 2000 Recorder 1997 Recorder CCC 2008 Serious Fraud
Office Panel 2013
113. Yvonne Coen 2000 Recorder 2000
114. Susan Prevezer 2000 Recorder 2000 DHCJ 2006 co-managing partner of
the QE London office Quinn Emanuel Trial Lawyers
115. Catherine Otton-Goulder 2000 Recorder 2000 DHCJ Also a solicitor
116. Elizabeth Jones 2000 DHCJ Chancery Division
117. Diana Ellis 2001 Recorder 1998 Authorised counsel for
International Criminal Court.
118. Margaret Bowron 2001 Recorder 1996
119. Victoria Sharp 2001 HCJ QB 2009 CA 2013
120. Maura McGowan 2001 Recorder 1996 DHCJ 2010 Vice Chairman of
the Bar 2012 Chairman of the Bar 2013
HCJ 2014 QBD
121. Josephine (Jane) Giret 2001 Died 2016
122. Geraldine Andrews 2001 Recorder 2001 HCJ QBD 2013
123. Anna Guggenheim 2001 2006 Circuit Judge
124. Lucille (Lucy) Stone 2001
125. Vasanti Selvaratnam 2001 Recorder 2000
126. Monica Carrs-Frisk 2001
127. Shan Warnock-Smith 2002
128. Marianna Hildyard 2002 Recorder 1999 DHCJ Circuit Judge 2012
129. Kim Hollis 2002 First female Asian Silk 2016 DPP of
British Virgin Islands
130. Elwen Evans 2002 Recorder 2002
131. Susan Rodway 2002 Deputy Chairman of the NHS Tribunal:
132. Melanie Hall 2002
133. Jane McNeill 2002 Recorder. Employment Tribunal
134. Joanna Glynn 2002 Recorder 2000-2013
135. Finola O’Farrell 2002 HCJ QBD 2016
136. Sarah Asplin 2002 DHCJ Chancery Div. HCJ 2012 CA Autumn
137. Alison Foster 2002 DHCJ Chancery
138. Sarah Munro 2002 Recorder 1996 Circuit Judge 2011
139. Margaret Bickford Smith 2003 Recorder 1997 2012 Chair of CiArb
140. Carey Ann Johnston 2003 Legal Assessor MPTS
141. Sally Cahill 2003 Circuit Judge 2005
142. Judith Rowe 2003 Recorder 2000 DHCJ Fam 2005 Circuit
Judge 2012
143. Lucy Theis 2003 Recorder 1998 Chairman FLBA 2008-2010
HCJ Fam div 2010
144. Jane Humphryes 2003 Recorder 1999
145. Miranda Moore 2003
146. Sally Howes 2003
147. Sue Carr 2003 Chairman Professional Negligence Bar
Association and of the Bar’s Complaints
Committee 2008 HCT J 2013

Under the New Rules in October 2006

148. Jacqueline Anne Perry 2006
149. Janet Claire Bazley 2006 Recorder 2000
150 Susan Elizabeth Jacklin 2006 Recorder 1998 DHCJ 2008m Vice Chairman
FLBA 2012, Chairman 2014-15, Circuit
Judge 2018
151. Deborah Joanna Janet Bangay 2006
152. Lynn Margaret Tayton 2006 Circuit Judge 2011
153. Philippa Mary McAtasney 2006
154. Lorna Gillian Meyer 2006
155. Johanne Erica Delahunty 2006 Recorder 2010
156. Helen Katharine Lucy Malcolm 2006 Recorder 2005
157. Rosemary Elizabeth Jackson 2006 Recorder 2002 Full time mediator and
158. Tania Veronica Griffiths 2006 Recorder 2000
159. Tracy Jane Ayling 2006 Standing Counsel to HMRC (1998 – 2005)
160. Sarah Louise Singleton 2006 Recorder Circuit Judge 2012
161. Heather Rogers 2006 Recorder 2010
162. Amanda Eve Pinto 2006 Recorder 2004
163. June Marion Venters 2006 First Woman Solicitor to be QC.
164. Gillian Irving 2006 Part-time Chairman of the Care
Standards Tribunal
165. Christine Katherine Laing 2006 Recorder 2000 member of the Standards
Committee of the Bar Standards Board
166. Sallie Ann Bennett-Jenkins 2006 Recorder 2000
167. Kate Victoria Branigan 2006
168. Rosalind Morag Ellis 2006 Church Commissioner 2019
169. Kanta Shant 2006 Recorder. Circuit Judge 2015
170. Frances Jean Judd 2006 Recorder 2002 DHCJ 2011
171. Heather Jean Williams 2006 part-time Employment Judge and as a
Chair of the Royal Mail’s National
Appeals Panel. DHCJ and Recorder,
Assistant Coroner
172. Louise Mary Blackwell 2006
173. Ingrid Ann Simler 2006 Recorder 2002 HCJ 2013 LJ Appeal 2018
174. Ruth Sara Margaret Henke 2006
175. Stephanie Nicola Barwise 2006
176. Patricia Grace Robertson 2006 Board member Bar Standards Board
January 2010. BSB Vice Chair 2013
177. Jennifer Jane Eady 2006 Recorder 2003
178. Dinah Gwen Lison Rose 2006
179. Nathalie Marie Daniella Lieven 2006 HCJ 2019 FD
180. Lesley Jane Anderson 2006 Recorder 2006 DHCJ Ch. 2008
181. Elisabeth Laing 2008 Recorder 2000
182. Julia Dias 2008 member of the Gibraltar Bar 1994
183. Alison Russell 2008 Recorder 2004
184. Rosalind Coe 2008 Recorder 2003 Circuit Judge 2011
185. Sarah Vaughan Jones 2008 Recorder
186. Deborah Eaton 2008 Recorder 2004
187. Felicity Cullen 2008 CEDR Accredited Mediator
188. Suzanne Goddard 2008 Recorder 2002
189. Nerys Jefford 2008 Recorder 2007 HCJ QBD 2016
190. Johannah Cutts 2008 Recorder 2003 Circuit Judge 2011
191. Susan Grocott 2008 Recorder 2003
192. Sarah Forshaw 2008 SFO Approved Panel of QC’s [2009]
Leader SE Circuit 2012
193. Juliet May 2008 Circuit Judge 2008 HCJ 2015
194. Alison Levitt 2008 Recorder Principal Legal Advisor to the
Director of Public Prosecutions.
Partner Mishcons
195. Karon Monaghan 2008 Deputy High Court Judge
196. Sarah Hannaford 2008 Bar of Northern Ireland, 2015
197. Elspeth Talbot Rice 2008 Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme
198. Helen Davies 2008
199. Chantal-Aimee Doerries 2008 Technology and Construction Bar
Association Chairman 2010 Chairman of
the Bar 2016
200. Caroline Harry-Thomas 2008
201. Daphne Irene Romney 2009 Chairman ELBA
202. Ann Elizabeth Hussey 2009
203. Mary Bernadette O’Rourke 2009
204. Penelope Jane Reed 2009 Recorder 2010 DHCJ
205. Maureen Anne Bacon 2009 Recorder 2002 Circuit Judge 2015
206. Gillian Matthews 2009 Circuit Judge 2010
207. Judith Ann Elizabeth Gill 2009 Solicitor
208. Susan Claire Campbell 2009
209. Raquel Agnello 2009 Deputy Registrar in Bankruptcy &
210. Jennifer Mary Roberts 2009 Recorder 2014 HCJ FD
211. Christina Caroline Lambert 2009
212. Rachel Langdale 2009
213. Wendy-Jane Tivnan Outhwaite 2009 Retired 2012
214. Joanna Angela Smith 2009
215. Leigh-Ann Maria Mulcahy 2009 DHCJ
216. Isabella Forshall 2010
217. Jane Cross 2010
218. Jane Bewsey 2010
219. Katherine D’Arcy 2010 Died 2010
220. Katharine Holland 2010
221. Susan Evans 2010 Circuit Judge 2011
222. Judith Khan 2010
223. Anuja Dhir 2010 Recorder 2009 Circuit Judge 2012
224. Joanne Wicks 2010
225. Zia Bhaloo 2010
226. Helen Mountfield 2010 Recorder 2010
227. Veronique Buehrlen 2010
228. Claire Blanchard 2010
229. Naomi Ellenbogen 2010
230. Sally Harrison 2010
231. Anne Whyte 2010 DHCJ QBD
232. Michelle Colborne 2010
233. Sioban Healy 2010
234. Jemima Stratford 2010
235. Philippa Whipple 2010 Recorder 2005 HCJudge 2015
236. Kalyani Kaul 2011 Recorder, Circuit Judge 2015
237. Catherine Wood 2011 Recorder 2007
238. Barbara Connolly 2011
239. Fiona Barton 2011
240. Kate Davidson 2011
241. Tina Cook 2011
242. Gillian Etherton 2011
243. Sarah Plaschkes 2011 Recorder 2004 Circuit Judge 2015
244. Patricia Hitchcock 2011
245. Sarah Morgan 2011 Recorder 2009/11
246. Rosina Cottage 2011 Recorder 2012
247. Poonam Melwani 2011
248. Eleanor Grey 2011 Judge of the Mental Health Review
249. Eleanor Laws 2011 Recorder
250. Sara Cockerill 2011 DHCJ 2016 HCT J 2017
251. Lisa Giovanetti 2011
252. Janine Kirsty Brimelow 2011 Chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights
Committee of England and Wales 2012-2018
253. Phillippa Kaufmann 2011 Chair of the Mental Disability Advocacy
254. Jennifer (Jenni) Richards 2011
255. Amanda Tipples 2011 Recorder 2010
256. Amanda Yip 2011 Recorder 2009 DHCJ 2013
257. Alexandra Healy 2011 Recorder 2010
258. Judith Farbey 2011 Lead Assistant Boundary Commissioner
for the London Region 2011
259. Fiona Parkin 2011
260. Gwyneth Knowles 2011 Part-time Tribunal Judge of the Mental
Health Review Tribunal HCJ 2017
261. Sonia Tolaney 2011
262. Felicity Toube 2011
263. Ceri Bryant 2012
264. Frances Heaton 2012 Recorder 2002 DHCJ 2013
265. Suzanne Ormsby 2012
266. Sally Ann Hales 2012 Recorder 2011
267. Anne Studd 2012
268. Jane Bickerstaff 2012
269.Fenella Morris 2012
270. Zoe Johnson 2012 Recorder 2009 Senior Treasury Counsel
at the Central Criminal Court 2011
271. Tracey Angus 2012
272. Dominique Rawley 2012
273. Suzanne McKie 2012 former Chair of the Employment Lawyers
274. Taryn Lee 2012 Recorder 2008
275. Kate Blackwell 2012
276. Samantha Leek 2012
277. Emma Himsworth 2012
278. Sara Masters 2012
279. Rebecca Sabben-Clare 2012
280. Rebecca Stubbs 2012
281. Rebecca Trowler 2012
282. Marie Demetriou 2012
283. Nicola Shaw 2012
284. Anneliese Day 2012
285. Claire Wills-Goldingham 2012
286. Caroline Harrison 2013
287. (Brie)Michelle Stevens-Hoare 2013
288. Sally Hatfield 2013 Recorder 2004 Assistant Deputy Coroner
(Manchester) 2008
289. Fiona Sinclair 2013
290. Parmjit Kaur (Bobbie) Cheema-Grubb 2013 Deputy High Court judge and a
Crown Court Recorder with Appeals
and Rape authorisations Senior
Treasury Counsel. HCJ 2015
291. Karyl Nairn 2013 global co-head of Skadden’s
International Litigation and Arbitration
292. Stephanie Harrison 2013 Legal Counsel to the Equality
and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

293. Fionnuala McCredie 2013
294. Jessica Simor 2013
295. Kristina Montgomery 2013 Circuit Judge 2014
296. Katherine (Kassie) Smith 2013
297. Camilla Bingham 2013
298. Lucy Frazer 2013 Conservative MP for South East
Cambridgeshire elected 2015
299. Elizabeth Isaacs 2013 Recorder 2009/12 DHCJ FD 2016
300. Rachell Ansell 2014
301. Kelyn Bacon 2014
302. Sarah Elliott 2014
303. Jane Mulcahy 2014
304. Felicity Gerry 2014
305. Catherine Gibaud 2014
306. Annette Henry 2014 Mental Health Review Tribunal (Part-time
judge) 2001 – 2013
307. Paula Hodges 2014 Solicitor Herbert Smith HEAD OF GLOBAL
308. Adrienne Lucking 2014 Circuit Judge 2015
309. Kate Markus 2014 Upper Tribunal Judge 2014
310. Charlotte May 2014
311. Elizabeth McGrath 2014
312. Kate Gallafent 2014
313. Saira Sheikh 2014
314. Kathryn Skellorn 2014
315. Karen Steyn 2014 DHCJ 2016
316. Sarah Whitehouse 2014 Senior Treasury Counsel 2014
317. Lisa Wilding 2014
318. Marion Smith 2015
319. Rufina (Aswni)Weereratne 2015
320. Marcia Shekerdemian 2015 Deputy Registrar in the Bankruptcy and
Companies Courts.

321. Julia Cheetham 2015 Recorder 2008
322. Christine Agnew 2015
323. Janet Bignell 2015 Recorder 2009/13/15
324. Annabel Darlow 2015 Recorder 2009
325. Amanda Hardy 2015
326. Rhiannon Jones 2015
327. Jane Lemon 2015
328. Zoe O’Sullivan 2015
329. Alison Pople 2015
330. Lisa Roberts 2015
331. Rachel Crasnow 2015
332. Nageena Khalique 2015
333. Clare Stanley 2015
334. Wendy Miles 2015
335. Riel Karmy-Jones 2015
336. Angela Rafferty 2015
337. Francesca Wiley 2015
338. Catherine Brunner 2015
339. Eleanor Hill 2015 Assistant Coroner London South
340. Deirdre Fottrell 2015 DHCJ 2018
341. Alison Grief 2015
342. Christine Henson 2015 Circuit Judge 2015
343. Jayne Adams 2016
344. Kim Franklin 2016
345. Marina Wheeler 2016
346. Sarah Lee 2016
347. Cathryn McGahey 2016
348. Kerry Bretherton 2016
349. Emma Deacon 2016
350. Katharine Gollop 2016
351. Justine Thornton 2016
352. Caroline Shea 2016
353. Soibhan Grey 2016
354. Loiuise Sweet 2016
355. Gemma White 2016
356. Catrin Evans 2016
357. Clodagh Bradley 2016
358. Bridget Dolan 2016
359. Kama Melly 2016
360. Clare Sibson 2016
361. Hannah Markham 2016
362. Anya Proops 2016
363. Rosalind Phelps 2016
364. Maya Lester 2016
365. Lisa Busch 2016
366. Shaheed Fatima 2016
367. Penelope Madden 2016 Solicitor
368. Jane Allison Hunter 2017
369. Caroline Goodwin 2017 Recorder 2010
370. Sara Lawson 2017
371. Mary Prior 2017 Recorder 2018
372. Alexis Campbell 2017 Recorder 2010
373. Penelope Howe 2017
374. Maria Kinsler 2017
375. Hannah Brown 2017
376. Tana Adkin 2017
377. Kate Bex 2017
378. Natasha Wong 2017
379. Sarah Clarke 2017 Recorder
380. Anna McKenna 2017
381. Caroline Carberry 2017
382. Nina Goolamali 2017
383. Debra Powell 2017
384. Gillian Jones 2017 Recorder 2012
385. Sadeqa Shaheen Rahman 2017
386. Fiona Scolding 2017
387. Anna Vigars 2017 Recorder
388. Diane Middleton 2017
389. Samantha Broadfoot 2017
390. Deok Joo Rhee 2017
391. Catherine Addy 2017
392. Kate Grange 2017
393. Schona Jolly 2017
394. Serena Cheng 2017
395. Alison Macdonald 2017
396. Michelle Heeley 2017 Recorder
397. Sarah Ford 2017
398. Caoilfhionn Gallagher 2017
399. Gemma Mary Taylor 2018
400. Bridget Ann Lucas 2018
401. (Sarah)Vanessa Meachin 2018
402. Samantha Leonie King 2018
403. Clare Catherine Wade 2018
404. Sonali Naik 2018
405. Alison Padfield 2018
406. Jennifer Dempster 2018
407. Heidi Kubik 2018 Recorder 2015 Circuit Judge 2018
408. Kate Lumsdon 2018
409. Nicola Jane Rushton 2018
410. Vanessa Marshall 2018
411. Sarah Lambert 2018 Recorder 2012 Deputy Costs Judge
412. Philippa Hopkins 2018
413. Caroline Rees 2018 Recorder 2016
414. Eloise Marshall 2018
415. Katy Thorne 2018
416.Nicole Sandells 2018
417. Mary Loram 2018 Recorder
418. Amanda Weston 2018
419. Samantha Knights 2018
420. Lynne McCafferty 2018
421. Tiffany Scott 2018
422. Sophie Lamb 2018 Solicitor
423. Sarah Crowther 2018
424. Catherine Callaghan 2018 also qualified in NZ
425. Lyndsey de Mestre 2018
426. Caroline Haughey 2018
427. Lucy Garrett 2018
428. Brenda Campbell 2018
429. Joanna Martin 2018 was Solicitor in 1996
430. Hui Ling McCarthy 2018
431. Katherine Goddard 2019
432. Isabel Hitching 2019
433. Fiona Horlick 2019
434. Nina Grahame 2019
435. Sarah Pritchard 2019
436. Julia Smart 2019
437. Christina Michalos 2019
438. Aparna Nathan 2019
439. Michelle Nelson 2019
440. Catherine Cowton 2019 Recorder
441. Nicola Howard 2019 Recorder 2016
442. Sarah Jones 2019
443. Lindsay Lane 2019
444. Stephanie Tozer 2019
445. Narita Bahra 2019
446. Katherine Deal 2019
447. Margaret Gray 2019
448. (Catherine) Jane McCafferty 2019
449. Ronit Kreisberger 2019
450. Charlotte Kilroy 2019
451. Lorraine Cavanagh 2019
452. Constance McDonnell 2019
453. Sian Mirchandani 2019
454. Alison Morgan 2019
455. Diya Sen Gupta 2019
456. (Katherine) Valentina Sloane 2019
457. Jessica Stephens 2019
458. Anna Jane Boase 2019
459. Victoria Wakefield 2019
460. Victoria Butler-Cole 2019

With huge thanks to Eleanor Platt QC (#19) of 1 Garden Court Family Law chambers whose labour of love it has been to painstakingly compile and update this list, and who has allowed me to publish it here.

Legal Hackette lunches with Frances Gibb

thumbnail_frances gibb updated headshot 15_06_2012 - 15.56.05 - TIMNEWS - PR_FrancesGibb-04Over a croque madame, chips and large glass of chardonnay at Dalys, just off Fleet Street – the historic home of newspapers — the recently retired legal editor of The Times, discusses the horror of being interviewed under caution, warns over the biggest challenge for the legal profession and offers top tips for legal PRs.

Frances Gibb has spent 46 years in journalism. She was at The Times for 40 of them, serving under nine editors from William Rees-Mogg to John Witherow, and took over the legal beat in 1982.

She grew up in the north London suburbs of Edgware and Barnet, the eldest of three children. Her father was a solicitor and later in life, her mother became a writer of short stories.

Frances studied English at the University of East Anglia and, after graduating with a first, sought her first job in journalism. “I thought I’ll take any job in the media because it was quite hard to get jobs. So I applied for a whole host of things.”

The first thing that came up was a six-month stint at news film agency, Visnews, where she had “a very lowly job filing cuttings”. From there, she went to The Times Higher Educational Supplement, where she spent four years, before joining The Daily Telegraph as art sales correspondent.

“They wanted someone to take on The Times, which at that time had Geraldine Norman – the doyenne of the arts sales world, who was doing massive investigations and huge exposés of forgers. I barely know a thing about auction houses. It was quite daunting.”

She was sent to India to cover what was to be the biggest sale of jewels in the world. “It was going to make absolutely millions. Sotheby’s were handling it. But after three or four days of political wrangling the government blocked it, so I had a week in India for nothing, which was absolutely fabulous.”

Reeling off other big stories covered – the British Rail pension fund investing in art works and a record-breaking sale – she interjects: “Interrupt me if I’m not telling you what you want”.

After four years, she fancied the more varied diet of a general reporter, and in 1979 joined The Times, which had started recruiting again after having closed its doors over a dispute with the unions around manning levels and the introduction of new technology.

The paper was based in Gray’s Inn Road and although the newspaper industry back then was, she says, probably more egalitarian than the legal profession, she recalls: “When I went to look for a desk, another established woman reporter said: ‘Don’t come over here – we don’t want it to become a women’s corner’.”

Among the major stories she covered was the crash in Tenerife in 1980 of a Boeing 727 from Manchester that killed all passengers and crew. Covering the story meant visiting the scene of the disaster which was strewn with personal belongings and body parts. By contrast, she was among the team that covered the wedding of Princes Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

After a couple of years of the variety of the general beat, she became slightly fed up with being pushed from pillar to post and wanted the greater control of a specialist patch. The legal job came up after her predecessor Marcel Berlins left to write crime novels.

But her appointment was not straight forward because, unlike the previous holders of the post, she was not a lawyer. She had to make her case to the then editor, Charles Douglas-Home. “I said that I had to write the stories for the wider public – for lay people, not for lawyers, and that as a journalist I was best placed to do it.

“I think they were slightly dubious,” she says and, as she recalls in the valedictory piece she wrote for the paper the week before she left, the consternation expressed by one senior judge continued to be voiced by some commentators for years after her appointment.

Confounding the doubters, for 37 years of her distinguished career, her distinctive clear and engaging writing has playing a huge role in enhancing the public’s understanding of legal issues of the day and the legal profession.

Her advice to budding journalists looking to follow in her footsteps, is “take the opportunities” that come your way and do not limit your horizons.

Since the late-1980s, when the The Lawyer and later Legal Week came on the scene alongside the older titles — New Law Journal, Law Society Gazette and Solicitors Journal – she says a strand of “legal journalism” has grown up.

But to those who ask her “how can I be a legal journalist?” her reply is: “Don’t ask to be a legal journalist; be a journalist and then see where you go. It’s all journalism and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s legal or education or health.

“I would have been happy to have done all of those, but I actually think I got the best job in the end because it’s so interesting.”

Frances bowed out on a high, writing on her final day a story about divorce reform, which would be the paper’s splash the following day. But she is modest about her achievements. “I haven’t brought down any governments. I really haven’t had any massive scoops. I like to think I just had a regular run of smaller things.”

One story that she says gained a lot of traction, was about the lord chancellor, Derry Irvine, likening himself to Cardinal Wolsey. “It came in the wake of stories about his purchase of £650,000 of Pugin-designed wallpaper for his official residence. The tabloids went wild and made mock-ups of him as Wolsey in a palace.”

As she recalls in The Times: “Irvine was livid. He launched into a torrent of abuse when I was seated opposite him at a dinner shortly afterwards: I had ‘no soul’, he told me, and I was a ‘silly goose’.”

In 2009 Frances got to see what it was like to be on the wrong side of the law. By a majority verdict of 10-2 a jury at Reading Crown Court convicted a child minder of the manslaughter of the 11-month-old child in her care. One of the dissenting jurors, concerned that the wrong verdict had been reached, was keen to talk.

“He approached us and we duly did an interview. We didn’t identify the case and it all went through the lawyers. It was very carefully done, but that wasn’t good enough for the law officers, so they prosecuted us of contempt of court,” she recalls.

Gavin Miller argued for the paper that that contempt proceedings could not be justified in the light of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, and that it was in the public interest for the press to tell the public what happened in court proceedings. But it was to no avail and the paper was fined £15,000.

“There were quite a few judges who recused themselves, because they said they knew me,” says Frances. Lord Justice Pill and Mr Justice Sweeney heard the cases, and she recalls “they were quite nice in the end and tried to exonerate me in the judgment. But it was a strict liability offence and we were found guilty.”

PA, the news agency, she adds, were very nice about it all and didn’t mention her name in their copy.

“The worst aspect was having to go and do the police interview, which was really unpleasant,” she recalls. As a favour to her, it was done outside London in Maidenhead. Laughing, she says: “I don’t quite know why that was a favour – I think they did it in case I was recognised – as if I was a celebrity.”

Peter Binning, the solicitor instructed to act for her by the paper, advised her to give a “no comment” interview.

“They asked very detailed questions about the amount of research done and the toing and froing between different news editors. I couldn’t remember the half of it. It lasted for 45 minutes and I followed his advice and didn’t answer any questions. I think he was quite amazed that I managed it.”

After the verdict, she says the office was very nice about it, adding: “I blame the lawyers.”

Looking back over her career, she says the job has “changed beyond recognition” and “without a doubt” the biggest factor is the internet.

Recalling the move from Gray’s Inn Road to Wapping, which happened overnight and marked the “complete change from an analogue to digital world in an instant,” she says: “We were all ‘phoned over the weekend and told to report to Wapping. Nobody, except a very small group of people knew about the secret project.

“I remember arriving and there were no typewriters. I was just presented with this computer. It sounds ridiculous now, but I actually remember handwriting my stories and then copying them laboriously onto the computer. I wasn’t able to just write it straight onto the keyboard.”

The internet, she says, enables speedy online research. “Gone are the days of trailing over to cuttings libraries and getting dusty files full of cuttings out.”

With social media, it have changed the pace of news, making it more immediate. “You can’t sit on a story and produce it the next day in a leisurely way in the paper.” And instead of writing a couple of stories a day, the digital editions mean she can write five or six stories a day.

“Paradoxically, the internet makes it quicker and easier to access information, but makes it harder to get out of the office.”

Turning to the legal profession, the biggest change she says, has been the way it is perceived by the news desk, who represent the public. While an anti-professional culture has long been pervasive in Fleet Street, along with the feeling that there is too much reverence for judges, she says there is now even less deference.

“When I started there would be a leisurely Law Society conference lasting five days and we’d all go off and have nice meals in the evenings – then there’d be the president’s speech and that would always be a page lead.

“Anything the president says now has to fight to get in on its own merits; they will never just take a speech because it’s by the president of the Law Society – or even the lord chief justice.”

Newspapers, or The Times at any rate, she says, used to be more concerned about being a paper of record, and as such would report on the daily events in court cases, in the same way that it covered parliamentary debates. But, she notes: “That doesn’t happen anymore … We’re lucky to get an opening in the paper and then after that it’s the judgment.”

Colourful legal characters and old-style florid rhetoric, she says, are a thing of the past, and it is the graphic, colourful details of cases that determine coverage.

“What the news desk want has changed, but there is still an appetite for things legal,” she insists and is not all sexy stuff, sexual harassment and naughty judges. “They are interested in ground-breaking cases or things pushing the law forward, and everything has to have human interest.”

Looking ahead she says: “The biggest challenge for the legal profession is the need to address the fact that it is almost impossible for women to have children, stay in the profession and rise to the top.”

“It’s bad enough in journalism, but it’s really tough in law, especially at the criminal bar – the hours are long, you have to travel away from home and the conditions are terrible. It’s so unattractive. No one in their right mind would do it.”

She warns: “Until they sort that out they are going to lose some of the best people.” Judges, she says, have to be more understanding about the how stressful juggling a career and a family is – “one little thing and the whole fragile network of arrangement collapses”.

A big change in recent years has been arrival of PRs across the legal profession, which she says is a “mixed blessing”.

Judges, once aloof and often rude and irascible, are now media-savvy and more polite. But while access to them is easier, it is on their terms and they remain guarded about what they say.

Communication with ministers has, since the days of Tony Blair, become more centrally controlled by Downing Street. Ministerial press briefings are rare, and gone are the days of informal drinks or lunches with senior officials.

Of law firm or chambers PRs, she says: “They can facilitate the writing of an urgent comment piece or quote when we are up against a deadline; but they can be unhelpful or even obstructive if they decide that helping is not in their interest.”

Recognising the inherent tension between what journalists need and what PRs want for their law firm or chambers’ clients, she says: “They want their experts quoted or pieces by them printed, but they don’t always understand what makes a good quotation or commentary.

“They also often don’t appreciate the nature of our business and the importance of speed. And unless they have a background in journalism, they don’t understand what will make a story.” Those few PRs who do, she adds are “worth their weight in gold”.

The biggest frustration, she found, was when PRs from whom she would take regular pieces, were less happy to oblige when she was in desperate need of a quote or information from a client who was in the news. “It really has to be a two-way street,” she says.

Among her top tips: When pitching articles or commentaries, make sure they are topical and tied to current news, write them with that news peg in the intro; and write them clearly and simply, without legal case references.

Refer to cases by the facts – as in: “In a recent court of appeal ruling when a woman challenged her mother’s will …’ rather than ‘in Bloggs v Bloggs’.”

When commenting on a breaking news story: “Keep the quotes short and don’t fill them with detail of what the ruling says. We know that. Talk about the implications and throw the story forward, for example — ‘there is now a danger that x will happen’ or ‘ministers must now act to do x or y’.”

When contacted by a journalist: “Return the call quickly with the information wanted or come back to explain at least why you can’t supply the info. Even a returned call to say ‘we won’t be commenting on this’ is better than a rude silence.”

And, she adds: “When a lawyer does take a call, there is nothing more frustrating and disingenuous than the common cop-out – ‘I don’t have my client’s instructions to speak on this’.”

Despite the insight and wisdom that she could impart to legal PRs, a career in legal consultancy does not appeal. She’s not sure what she will do next. “I can’t think beyond this week,” she says. After lunch, she is off to pick up Bella, her eight-month-old Labrador and submit her final expenses claim.

It is clear that Frances has loved the job that has given her a ringside seat at moments of history and allowed her to mingle with many leading legal figures.

“If I was told I couldn’t do journalism, which would still be my first love, I think law would be a great second,” she says – preferring the bar to being a solicitor. “I couldn’t bare working in a big City law firm where you’d get lost in some big corporate machine.”

Even with the roles reversed, the consummate professional is looking at this interview with the eyes of a journalist. Concerned that her answers have not provided good enough copy, she asks: “Do you want anything else? If you think of any more questions or want me to make any of my answers a bit more lively, just send me an email and I’ll do my best.

“I know what it’s like when you think ‘how am I going to make a silk purse out of this?’”