A declaration to commit to the rule of law, the independence of the courts and profession and support for publicly funded access to justice has been backed by the Chairman of the Bar of England & Wales Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC and other world Bar leaders in Edinburgh at the weekend.
Meeting at the Scottish Parliament 14 years after first speaking out jointly on the subject at the first ever conference of barristers and advocates in 2002, Bar leaders agreed there was a need to re-affirm their commitment to the principles set out in the Edinburgh Declaration of 2002 insight of the continuing threats facing justice across the globe.
Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: “This is a timely recommitment by the independent referral bars around the world to the central tenets of any justice system. The challenges faced by each jurisdiction are different.
“In England and Wales recent years have seen substantial cuts to legal aid and to funding for the courts. These cuts, in particular the removal of legal aid for large areas of social welfare and family, has undermined our ability as a society to offer effective access to justice for the vulnerable and the poor.
“A collective commitment such as this declaration shows that the world’s Bar leaders are on the same page when it comes to setting out the guiding principles for the professions they lead and represent.
“The task now is for us to return to our own jurisdictions and ensure the tenets of the Edinburgh Declaration underpin our work as Bar leaders and, hopefully, act as guidance for our successors.”
Barristers and advocates from England and Wales, Australia, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong attended the conference and supported the Edinburgh Declaration. The Bar of England & Wales was represented by the Chairman, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, and Louisa Nye, Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee.