21st Century Bar Conference reception - celebrating 15 years and counting…

Wet and windy conditions did not deter attendees from gathering on 3 December 2016 for a reception in celebration of the 15th annual 21st Century Bar Conference.

The reception was held at the Reading Room of the Advocates Library at Parliament House. Guests included the President of the Law Society, Christine McLintock; the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, James Wolffe QC; ten QCs; and two judges.

Law Society President Christine McLintock and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates James Wolffe QC

The President paid tribute to the contribution of Colin Anderson, then Vice Chair of the In-House Lawyers’ Group (now member of the Board and Council of the Society), and Lord Malcolm (then Vice Dean of the Faculty) in setting up the annual bar conference for in-house lawyers in 2000. She also expressed the sincere gratitude of the Society to the Faculty, its office bearers, and its members for all the hard work involved in making these conferences so consistently well received.

Lord Malcolm and Colin Anderson

Over 55 Faculty members have been speakers and chairs at these events, including 28 QCs and seven holders of judicial office, showcasing the talents of the Scottish Bar and celebrating the important collaboration between the Faculty and in-house lawyers.

The Dean thanked the President for her tribute and looked forward to many more of these annual conferences.

All those present enjoyed a chance to network with conference colleagues and celebrate a milestone achievement.

Report by Graeme McWilliams, Legal Adviser at Standard Life plc and In-House Lawyers’ Committee member


Court reform dominated discussions at the 15th annual 21st Century Bar Conference

The following day, James Wolffe QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, welcomed delegates to the 21st Century Bar Conference.

The morning session was chaired by Laura Dunlop QC and began with a keynote address by the Rt Hon Lord Justice Clerk, now Lord President Carloway. Lord Carloway put particular emphasis on reform of the Scottish court system. During a highly topical speech, he stated: “Court reform is never complete. Our courts must be ready to adapt and respond to progressions and innovations in society. They should do so with a modern outlook but at the same time reflecting upon historical experience.”

He asked at one point: “What is more likely to be true: a record of an event as caught on camera and a video recorded statement made by a witness in the hours immediately following an event, or the oral testimony of a witness at a proof months or perhaps years later?”

Lord Carloway emphasised the continuing importance of oral testimony in court. However, he firmly stated: “The days of the lengthy proof with oral testimony will soon be over. Such diets are time consuming, expensive and unnecessary. They do not operate in the matter best suited to the ascertainment of truth. They are not consistent with modern ideas of justice.”

The keynote address was followed by updates on a range of topics including: employment law, by Graeme Dalgleish, advocate; contract law, by Ross Anderson, advocate; Bribery Act and proceeds of crime, by Bryan Heaney, advocate; intellectual property, by Kathryn Pickard, advocate; and legal professional privilege, by Alastair Duncan QC.

The afternoon session, chaired by Kenneth Campbell QC and Graeme McWilliams from the In-House Lawyers’ Committee, included updates on: public procurement, by Ruth Crawford QC; court reform, by Andrew Stewart QC; data protection, by Morag Ross, advocate; and company law, by David Sellar QC.

Graeme finished the afternoon by paying tribute to the Faculty and its members and staff for all their hard work in ensuring the success of this 15th annual conference.

This event was open to all in-house members and in-house trainees and there was ample time for networking with Faculty members and devils.

The conference ended with a tour of the historic Parliament House (including the rather eerie lower hall) and a drinks reception in the Reading Room of the Advocates Library. Reflecting on the day, it did feel as if Scots law could have the very best of the old and the new in court reform, legal scholarship and advocacy.

Read Lord Carloway’s full speech

Report by Sharon Wares, Solicitor at The Highland Council and In-House Lawyers’ Committee member

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