Comrades, the criminal bar in the UK has vanished. The CBA intends to be proactive in preserving the relevance of a specialist criminal Bar, the contribution of criminal barristers to the rule of law, and the livelihoods of our members in difficult times. The ICC is central to those goals.
The Indictable Crime Certificate is currently being developed by the CBA and the Victorian Bar and is supported by the Supreme Court. Those who complete it are certified by the Bar as suitable to be briefed in indictable trials. The scheme is voluntary; those who are NOT certified still have the right of audience in the higher courts. However, the ICC will likely become a prerequisite for membership on panels of approved barristers for the chief briefing agencies.
The ICC is a certificate designed to ensure that the Bar remains the primary source of advocates in criminal trials. It is currently being developed in consultation with the briefing agencies, the higher courts and the Bar, and we expect it will be launched in September or October of this year.
The ICC will have two components – an education requirement and a compliance requirement.
The ICC, we hope, will allow the chief briefing agencies – the OPP, Legal Aid, private firms and government agencies such as Victoria Police, DoJ, DHS, Corrections and others – to operate panels consistently with our own standards. The alternative is that they operate panels imposing their own criteria. Panels are coming.
More generally, the ICC will allow the Bar to provide education suitable for those appearing in serious criminal matters.
Furthermore, the compliance mechanism will allow any concerns or complaints about barristers to be dealt with accountably. Barristers need this – the absence of such a mechanism means that individual barristers are subject to unfair innuendo and rumour, with no ability to clear their name or repair any shortcoming. Furthermore, the briefing agencies are now insisting upon some mechanism; it is far better that the Bar operate it.
Currently a working party of the CBA and the Bar is developing the details of the ICC. We welcome further comment and input from the membership on these issues; as previously indicated, we regard this scheme as the last viable opportunity for the Bar to retain control of advocacy standards.