Bar joins CPS to cut wasted time

The Bar Council and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are aiming to reduce delays by co-operating under a set of service standards for the first time.

The two bodies hope to ensure that prosecuting counsel receive papers early and act on them promptly, cutting down wasted time.

In a joint statement, Barbara Mills QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Robert Seabrook QC, Bar Council chairman, say the aim is for “early and effective action on case papers by both the CPS and counsel”.

The three main benefits are expected to be avoiding unnecessary costs, freeing court time to deal with other cases, and reducing the stress caused by delays to victims, witnesses and those awaiting trial.

In turn, it requires the CPS to deliver most briefs to counsel within 14 days of committal or transfer for trial, and to deliver all within 21 days. It also requires counsel to finish work set out for each case within a specified time.

The joint CPS/Bar working group, set up last year, is preparing further service standards with the handling of prosecution papers, returned briefs, and maintenance of high quality case records.

Neil Butterfield QC, leader of the Western circuit, is Bar representative on the group.

The Bar Council has signed a protocol of co-operation with a host of UK and international bar associations and law societies with the aim of sharing knowledge about improvements to judicial systems and the delivery of legal services.

The group is called the International Consortium on Access to Law.