What follows is the message Max Hill QC sent out to the SEC membership following a Heads of Chambers meeting on Wednesday evening. It includes within it a link to his speech given at the SEC dinner last week. Together they set out his position on the ballot and why he is voting ‘No’.
Dear Member of the South Eastern Circuit,
Despite the tube strike, I am pleased and grateful to say that more than 40 Heads of Chambers joined me in Gray’s Inn Hall from 6pm-7.45pm, to discuss the CBA Ballot.
No instructions on how to vote were given. No vote was taken in the room. The purpose of the meeting was to enable your Head of Chambers to discuss matters with you and other members of your set. I think I can confidently say that the meeting was useful to all, whatever their personal view on how to vote. There was a sensible and logical discussion of how we are in this position of contemplating the Ballot, and there were divergent views on how to vote. Importantly, I add that there was significant representation from junior barristers whose Heads had asked them to deputise at this meeting. That said, it would be quite wrong to think that any Head of Chambers present did not have at the front of their mind the question of the survival of the junior Bar; we all work for the survival of our own sets above all else, and that must include the survival of the younger generation.
It is quite clear that the Bar is divided on the answer to the CBA Ballot. There are strong views in favour of answering Yes for action. There are equally strong views in favour of answering No. I would not dream of naming which Head of Chambers said what, but all present would I am sure agree that there are mixed feelings about this Ballot, and for every significant view in favour of answering Yes there is an equally significant view in favour of answering No.
Where does that leave us? I urge you to speak to your Head of Chambers, and to cast your personal vote with care.
You will inevitably want to know which way I cast my own vote, so I shall tell you. I have voted No. I did so for the reasons I set out in my speech to the Circuit Dinner on 26th June, and which you can read HERE. I did so because it is clear to me that there is no unanimity amongst the Bar on the Ballot question. I did so because I do not want to squander what chance we have to continue to persuade the Government to preserve and protect the independent Bar. I also did so because that is the view of the other elected Bar leaders; the Circuits, the CBA and the Bar Council. None of us can perform miracles. None of us can quell the honestly-held fears of the junior Bar overnight. But we have to engage with this Government, and doing so over a barricade constructed around the current CBA Ballot question will do none of us any good.