GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS FOR ADVOCATES FROM THE BAR COUNCIL (AND THE NEED FOR A CLEAR STATEMENT FROM THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD)
The Bar Council website has useful guidance on dealing with Coronavirus, this is in a section on its website here.
GUIDANCE GIVEN ON THE 16th MARCH 2020
This guidance is available from a link on the page, also here.
The guidance is given by the COVID-19 working group consisting of the Legal Practice Management Association, The Bar Council and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks.
The page contains useful links. Also, in relation to self- isolation (which I find a bit oblique).
“As well as speaking to the Ethical Enquiries Service, it is vital that barristers follow government advice, for example on when to self-isolate. One consequence of self-isolation is that barristers may have to return instructions. Our analysis suggests that there are circumstances under which a barrister should be able to
respond to any need for isolation without breaching the Handbook. Each barrister, however, must take responsibility for assessing their own ethical position, based on the facts, considering government advice and taking a risk-based approach. If you have a query about any ethical issues, please contact the Bar Council’s Ethical Enquiries Service.”
It goes on:-
“Whilst any decision by the independent regulator, the BSB, would be based upon the specific circumstances of the matter in hand, the Bar Council’s initial view is that there would be no cause for disciplinary action if there has not been a breach of the Handbook.
We have approached the BSB on a number of COVID-19 points and expect the BSB to issue a range of formal guidance on COVID-19 matters in the coming week. The Bar Council also continues to liaise with HMCTS and the Judiciary”
SO… WE WAIT ON THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD
I have looked at the BSB page for Press releases and news
I cannot see any information or guidance to advocates as to how to respond. This is a gap that must be filled at once. Advocates need to know, clearly, that they should not put others (and themselves) in harms way and can withdraw from a case without fear of professional repercussions from the regulator.