The Conference, which was attended by nearly 200 delegates, looked mainly at the issue of human rights in the context of the fight against terrorism and discussed the lawyer’s role in relation to this. Inspiring and challenging speeches were made by, among others, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, Prof. Conor Gearty (LSE and Matrix Chambers), Dame Nuala O’Loan (former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland) and Beatrice Mtetwa (President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe), which looked at the important role of the independent referral bar in ensuring that the rule of law is protected given the tendency of the executive branch to take controversial measures in the light of the undeniable terrorist threats to society.

The conference also discussed the future of the referral bar professions. In response to well-known concerns from the other barrister professions, the Chairman of the Bar Council, Timothy Dutton QC, explained that the Council’s proposals in relation to the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 were to maintain the general prohibition on partnership (with a relaxation in relation to those practising in the publicly-funded Bar) and holding clients’ money as well as the upholding the cabrank rule.