A judge demanded, late in the day, that prosecution prepare and upload a bad character application by 8pm and defence should respond by 9.30am the following day - despite being told that both sides had family commitments. The case, highlighted by criminal bar chief Chris Henley QC today, is another example of the challenges faced by parents struggling to maintain a reasonable work-life balance.
Addressing the issue of wellbeing in his latest update, Henley said the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council have tried to agree with the senior judiciary 'sensible parameters' for sitting hours and overnight working. However, he said the representative bodies will draft their own template if they have to, after highlighting two conversations in the last few days 'which exemplify the complete disregard for reasonable work/life boundaries we routinely tolerate'.
In the first example, Henley said a judge decided shortly after 4.30pm that the prosecution should make a bad character application and upload it by 8pm that day and that the defence should respond by 9.30am the following day.
Henley said: 'Prosecution counsel explained that he would be going straight home and dealing with young children until 8pm. In generous mood the judge allowed counsel until 9pm. Defence counsel similarly explained that family commitments would make a reply by 9.30am very difficult, but these were brushed aside.'
Prosecution counsel uploaded the application at 8.18pm. The defence's reply was uploaded at 12.08am. However, the following day, Henley said the judge 'had second thoughts and decided that no bad character material should be admitted'.
In the second example, Henley said a senior judge emailed after 11pm six points he wanted addressed by 9am the following day.
The lord chief justice has been widely praised for a speech he delivered last week about the need for a more diverse judiciary that is more closely representative of society. Henley said his examples 'sit very uncomfortably with the ambition the lord chief justice articulated'.
The association and Bar Council will 'ask one more time' for agreed protocols on reasonable parameters for working conditions and sitting hours.