The Jeffrey Report Sounds A Warning Over Advocacy Standards

Sir Bill Jeffrey has produced his careful and measured report on advocacy standards in the criminal courts of England and Wales. In it the author takes pains to highlight the difference best-quality advocacy makes to witnesses, defendants, jurors and the wider public:

“If prosecution and defence cases are not clearly made and skilfully challenged, injustice can and does result. Effective advocates simplify rather than complicate; can see the wood from the trees and enable others to do so; and thereby can contribute to just outcomes, and save court time and public money.”

He added:

“…the particular strengths of the English and Welsh criminal Bar are a substantial national asset, which could not easily be replicated. There is also a distinct national interest in having sufficient top-end advocates to undertake the most complex and serious trials, and senior judges with deep criminal experience.”

The report relied on the expert views of those who know the issues well, including the Council of Circuit Judges. Judges are perhaps among the best placed to give reasoned, impartial assessments as to quality, and Sir Bill noted:

“I found a level of disquiet about current standards among judges (including some with long experience as solicitors) which was remarkable for its consistency and the strength with which it was expressed. It would be a mistake to discount these views.”

Commenting on the report the head of chambers’ criminal team Luke Blackburn said:

“This is a fundamentally important contribution to the argument we at 7BR, and the broader criminal bar, are pressing: it remains to be seen whether the government will get the message, and act quickly and decisively to maintain the highest standards.”

Category: News | Author: Luke Blackburn |

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