Barrister in-fighting tackled

THE BAR is drafting new guidelines in response to the increasing number of attacks by barristers on colleagues' behaviour in high-profile criminal trials.

The guidance, backed by the Lord Chief Justice and the Law Society, will clarify how newly-instructed counsel should proceed in appeal cases where the lay client makes allegations against former counsel.

However, it avoids altering barristers' duty under the Bar's code of conduct, stated as the duty to “promote and protect fearlessly and by all proper and lawful means his lay client's best interests without regard to others, including fellow members of the profession”.

David Penry-Davey QC, Bar vice-chair, said: “It is essential in the interests of justice that a defendant should be fully entitled in an appeal to rely on any relevant grounds including one involving allegations about the conduct by previous lawyers of the original trial.

“It is equally right that former counsel should be given adequate opportunity to respond to any allegations made against them in the course of an appeal. These new guidelines will help ensure that both these guiding principles are met.”