As part of the historic Opening of the Legal Year ceremony in London, the Law Society and Bar Council will be holding two concurrent seminars for international bar leaders and practitioners on Wednesday 30 September from 10:00 to 12:00.

Ever intensifying surveillance in the UK, particularly via emergency legislation, is a danger. The rule of law and individual rights to be revised and strengthened for our increasingly digital world. The longstanding right to consult a legal adviser in absolute confidence is amongst these fundamental rights which need to be protected. An expert panel will be discussing this further and looking at the following issues:

• What are the limits on state surveillance in democracies subject to the rule of law?

• Do legal professional communications deserve special privileges within the framework?

• What safeguards and oversight arrangements need to be put in place?

Panel members include:

• Chair: Jonathan Smithers, president, The Law Society of England and Wales

• Michael Drury, partner, BCL Burton Copeland and former Director for Legal Affairs, GCHQ

• Nicholas Griffin QC, 5 Paper Buildings

• Dr Gus Hosein, executive director, Privacy International

• Charlie McMurdie, senior cyber crime advisor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP

• Maria Slazak, president, The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)

2. Witnesses: their role and treatment across the globe

With escalating globalisation, lawyers need to be increasingly aware of the approach to witnesses in jurisdictions other than their own. An outstanding panel of experts will lead a discussion comparing issues affecting witnesses in criminal and civil proceedings in various types of tribunal around the world. Topics include:

• Attitudes to witness coaching

• Oral v. written evidence

• Expert evidence

• The competence and compellability of witnesses in proceedings

• Vulnerable witness treatment

• Using television links and mutual legal assistance: obtaining evidence from another jurisdiction?

The session will be chaired by the chairman of the Bar Council, Alistair MacDonald QC. Panel members to be announced.

The seminars will be followed by a networking lunch from 12:00 to 14:00 in the Reading Room at 113 Chancery Lane.


Limited places are available for members of the Law Society and Bar Council of England and Wales, to register your interest please visit the registration page . Places will be confirmed via email by Friday 11 September. These free events are expected to be accredited by the Bar Standards Board and the Law Society.

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