Criminal barristers were last week warned to ensure appeals have a factual basis when representing convicted defendants – or risk referral to their regulator.
Under guidance published by the Bar Council’s Ethics Committee, barristers who are not trial counsel have been told to seek both the advice of legal representatives and ‘objective, independent evidence’ before representing defendants in the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.
The new measures are outlined in guidance ‘Criminal appeals – duties to the court to make enquiries’.
Andrew Walker QC, chairman of the committee, told the Gazette: ‘There is now a positive duty to check the basic facts in all cases where a new legal team is instructed for an appeal, to make sure that criminal appeals are not being brought on an incorrect basis.
‘The Court of Appeal is clearly concerned that in some cases, appeals are being advanced on grounds which turn out to be factually wrong.’
In extreme cases, sanctions could even include referral to regulator the Bar Standards Board, Walker said.