Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association express concerns over Coroners and Justice Bill

THE Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association have voiced their concerns over the Coroners and Justice Bill, which receives its Second Reading in the House of Commons. A briefing sent to parliamentarians set out concerns in a number of key areas including:

  • Homicide and suicide
  • Coroners
  • The Sentencing Council
  • Special measures
  •  Anonymity

While the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association welcome changes to the law in these areas, they remain concerned that the Bill has failed to address a number of issues which could have profound unintended consequences.

Commenting on the Bill, the Chairman of the Bar, Desmond Browne QC, said:

“This Bill is a substantial measure dealing with a variety of complex legal points, such as mercy killings. Legislative changes like these should only be presented to Parliament after extensive consultation. That has not occurred in this case.

The Bar Council is concerned that the Bill as it stands contains farreaching changes to existing legislation which have not been given sufficient thought. The Bill as currently drafted could have serious detrimental effects on our justice system. I urge Parliamentarians to reflect on the Bar’s concerns which are set out in our Second Reading briefing”.

Peter Lodder QC, the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The Coroners and Justice Bill provides a number of welcome proposals. However, the Criminal Bar Association is eager to ensure that any legislation affecting the justice system is robust and will serve the public interest. We are concerned that the Bill as it stands contains a number of measures which do not achieve this.”