Four bars affirm commitment to cab-rank rule

Four bars affirm commitment to cab-rank rule

Pictured (clockwise from top left): Dean of Faculty, Roddy Dunlop KC; Sara Phelan SC, Chair, The Bar of Ireland; Nick Vineall KC, Chair, Bar Council of England & Wales and Moira Smyth KC, Chair, The Bar of Northern Ireland 

The leaders of the bars of the UK and Ireland have affirmed their support for the cab-rank rule ahead of a conference in Belfast.

In a statement, the leadership of the Four Bars said: “The rule means that barristers cannot discriminate between clients, and that they must take on any case provided that it is within their competence, they are available and appropriately remunerated.

“The cab rank rule promotes access to justice. It means that clients will not be deprived of the advocate of their choice because the client or the client’s cause could be seen as objectionable or unpopular. People with unpopular causes or accused of serious offences do not need the additional challenge of having first to persuade a lawyer to take them on.

“Barristers do not choose their clients nor do they associate themselves with their clients’ opinions or behaviour by virtue of representing them.”

They said the rule:

  • Promotes access to justice;
  • Recognises that it is for judges and juries to decide and to judge, and that passing judgment is not the role of advocates;
  • Imposes an obligation on the independent referral bar to accept work even from those with whom we profoundly disagree, and of whom we profoundly disapprove;
  • Means that our role and duty as advocates is, and is only, to advise, and then to represent, always subject to our duties to the court.
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