Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Arghhh!!!

One of my worst nightmares became a reality this week. I had been preparing a matter for a Crown Court trial over the past six months. I had briefed experienced Counsel to deal with the trial. My Client had met the barrister a number of times and was very happy with their service. Everything was looking well prepared and ready for trial.

I got out of my bed and started getting myself ready on the first day of the trial when I received a telephone call from the barrister's clerk. I knew that something would be wrong if I was receiving a call this early in the morning. I was told that the barrister had been injured in an accident and that they were unable to attend Court due to the extent of their injuries. I then said the words, "What are we going to do then?" The clerk said, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" I thought for a short while and then said, "Don't worry, leave it to me".

The case was not the kind of matter where a new barrister could read the papers and be up to speed within a few hours. There was no point trying to get a new barrister to the Court to deal with the matter. I took the matter in to my own hands and traveled to the Court knowing that there would not be a barrister to represent the interests of my Client. On my arrival at Court I spoke with the Clerk who was kind enough to seek the permission of the trial Judge who granted me rights of audience to appear in the Crown Court and represent my Client.

At no stage did I ever think that I should step in the breach and take the case on by actually doing the trial - my point of view was that provided the Judge would give me rights of audience I could then make an application to adjourn the trial in order to arrange new Counsel, allow time for new Counsel to prepare for the matter, and then have a conference with my Client and his new Counsel.

All went well in Court and my trial was adjourned despite the Prosecution barrister being a pedant suggesting that my Client's case could start in the afternoon with a new barrister! I quite enjoyed the experience of exchanging blows with the Prosecution barrister during the course of my application as he had been particularly difficult in pre-trial hearings regarding disclosure.

Once the case had been adjourned I let out a sigh of relief. The nightmare scenario that I had thought about on many occasions had been simple enough to solve. I have now made a mental note that I really should pull my finger out and put the finishing touches to my solicitor advocates portfolio so that I can actually obtain rights of audience to appear in the Crown Court to deal with hearings such as mentions, plea and case management hearings, and trials.

16 comments:

Smartie said...

>despite the Prosecution barrister being a pedant suggesting that my Client's case could start in the afternoon with a new barrister!

Thats rather optimistic of him/her.

www.freebritannia.com said...

Asa metter of interest Gavin, have you ever considered becoming a barrister?

pakman said...

"despite the Prosecution barrister being a pedant suggesting that my Client's case could start in the afternoon with a new barrister! "

Ah, good to see gamesmanship still alive and kicking in the Crown Court!

Gavin said...

freebritannia,

No. I like my life as a solicitor. Although it does sound very exciting being a full time advocate in the Crown Court I do enjoy going to Police Stations, seeing Clients at my office and dealing with the rough and tumble of the Magistrates Court. Crown Court advocacy is something that I would like to do more of, but not full time.

Gavin said...

pakman,

It certainly was gamesmanship. Luckily I won that particular round.

The 'Twenty-Something' said...

Great post Gavin.

Been out of the country for a while - so I'm doing the rounds on my links now I'm back in UK.

Glad you got through that set of extenuating circusmtances and all. I would be interested to hear about you gaining solicitor advocate status. Given my ambition with the Bar and the Army Legal Services, I would appreciate an insiders take on how the balance is achieved (paperwork, client management and rights to appear in the addresses you gave).

P.S. I'm currently on a mini-pupillage at a crown court so I can def' vouch for 'gamesmanship' still alive & kicking (cue 'Rocky' score).

Miss H

pakman said...

the twenty something

Army Legal Services?

My regular military assizes start on Monday and are always a source of fun. However the Crown is not always up to speed at courts martial probably because ALS lacks what little cohesion and focus the CPS may have.

Be careful what you wish for.

Gavin said...

Twenty-Something,

I have yet to acquire my solicitor advocate status but it is fairly straight forward.

Provided that you have 3 years post qualification experience you can apply to become a solicitor advocate through an exemption route where you put together a portfolio of cases showing experience and knowledge of Crown Court advocacy. Provided the portfolio is good enough you are awarded rights of audience to appear in criminal cases in the Crown Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords.

The 'Twenty-Something' said...

Thanks Gavin and Pakman for your comments. Pakman, the ALS isn't a dead cert' yet - but maybe if they wave some sponsorship. I'm also considering the NY Bar, so I'm not sure about what I'm wishing for just yet. Thanks for the heads up. Keep up-to-date by checking out my main blog, The Twenty-Something and my sister site, Diaries of UK Law Students (links through profile).

Miss H

Anonymous said...

Pakman.
ALS, a serious question please. Background-Am a Solicitor (private,Commercial), recently qualified. Also, soon to be joined as a TA Officer to a Cy for regional Admin duties in HQ.

I couldn't apply to ALS last year so going for this year's recruitment drive. Unlike some, pretty fixed on what I am likely getting myself into :)

Would very much appreciate an insider's POV, esp. on what experience I should be gaining this year-thinking a dive into Criminal Practise for short period? Work in Public Sector Investigations at the moment.

Regards

Bradders

bmsbradders@yahoo.co.uk

bellend said...

i wish your job didn't exist, but a perfect world is unattainable.
therefore i suggest we blow the fucker up.
booyah! court can suck ma balls

Notary Public Northampton said...

Great article

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