Extended Operating Hours - Urgent Call for Feedback

Posted by · July 08, 2020 5:13 PM


Dear PIBA Member

Extended Operating Hours - please see the urgent surveys referred to at the end of this message

At the request of the Senior Presiding Judge a Working Group has been formed to consider the possibility of trying to clear the additional backlog of cases waiting to be heard as a result of COVID-19 related adjournments / lack of capacity. There are specific sub-groups for crime, civil and family.

The civil working group is chaired by HHJ Godsmark QC, and the additional members are HHJ Robert Harrison, DJ Ranj Matharu, plus the Deputy Director of HMCTS, and representatives on behalf of the Law Society, the Fee Paid Judiciary, the Law Society, Litigants (Support through Court), a data analyst provided at the request of HHJ Godsmark QC and an Observer.  Union representation on behalf of the HMCTS staff is also requested.   On behalf of PIBA Sarah Lambert QC is representing the interests of the Bar likely to be affected.  

The Proposal

The, as yet outline, proposal is for evening sittings from 4.30pm until 8pm, limited to 2-3 days per week, in order to clear small claims, and for Saturday listings from 10am until 4pm to clear fast track trials. There may be some swapping between those 2 time slots depending upon the time estimates of individual claims.  This will be in addition to increased regular hours working, but regular listings will not in themselves be sufficient to address the backlog.  The EOH is primarily intended to be in person listings, for cases (particularly small claims) where remote hearings are considered unsuitable. 

HMCTS has stated in terms that the EOH will be entirely voluntary as far as the court staff and judiciary are concerned, and will be staffed by court staff volunteering for overtime (apparently this has been mooted and is acceptable to the staff, who are already volunteering) and by use of volunteering fee paid judiciary.

Junior Work

The nature of the work proposed for EOH, being small claims and trials lasting 1 day or less, is anticipated to be such as to affect junior rather than more senior members of the bar, and the small claims element, which has the greatest backlog and will make up the greater bulk, makes it likely that the most junior practitioners are likely to be those most in demand for EOH listings.


The civil WG Chair has asked for preliminary soundings as to whether or not practitioners would be willing and able to assist with EOH of this nature.   Informal soundings have already been taken from a number of chambers, and the SBAs affected are also providing feedback.  

We are conscious that while many will be simply unable or unwilling to accommodate evening and weekend sittings as proposed, the COVID situation has decimated junior work, and income, and there are also many practitioners who may be desirous of the proposal as a short term means to recoup some of their losses.  

In order to allow for the greatest input on behalf of PI Juniors likely to be affected by the listings of rta/PI claims, we would be grateful if Juniors under 10yrs' call in particular could complete the following surveys. They are very short and will take less than 5 mins in total to complete.

General Section :

Small Claims Section :

Fast Track Trials Section :

Practicalities section :

We have very little tine to provide this information. We need responses to the survey by 3.30pm tomorrow, 9 July 2020.

Kind regards


PIBA Administrator


Facts and Figures 2020 & Response to the LSB Consultation

Posted by · July 01, 2020 9:22 AM


Facts and Figures

Further to our email in April, Thomson Reuters are taking orders for the next edition of Facts and Figures. It will now be published on 30 September.

PIBA Members are entitled to a 20% discount on the full prices. The adjusted prices are set out below.


Net Total

VAT Total

Gross Total



F&F 2020/21 - Print






F&F 2020/21 - Print & eBook






F&F 2020/21 - eBook






If you would like to order, please email [email protected].

Please do not pass this on to non-PIBA members.


PIBA Response to the LSB consultation on "Ongoing competence: Call for evidence"

As part of PIBA's ongoing role in responding to attempts to increase the regulation on our members, we would like to bring your attention our response to the above consultation, which can be found here.


Kind regards

PIBA Administrator








Update - Proceedings before QB Masters

Posted by · June 09, 2020 8:47 PM


The Queen's Bench have issued new guidance in respect of remote and attended hearings with effect from 15 June 2020. The Guidance is in QB Bulletin 8 and can be found on our QB Covid Guidance page, here.

CJC Report into Covid-19

Posted by · June 05, 2020 10:02 AM


The Civil Justice Council report on the impact of Covid-19 on civil court users has been released and can be found here.

Message from the PIBA Chair: 21 May 2020

Posted by · May 20, 2020 9:45 PM


This is my update on what PIBA has been doing in the last two weeks as lockdown has continued.

CJC consultation

The Civil Justice Council commissioned a rapid consultation on the effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown on civil justice generally, with a focus on remote hearings.  Thank you to those of you who responded to my encouragement and submitted your own survey responses to that.  We attended a (remote) meeting with the researchers and then submitted a paper on behalf of PIBA as a whole. A copy can be found here. They are due to report on Friday. We will take stock of that when they do.

PI hearing numbers

Quite separately, we are working with the Bar Council to try to assess the downturn in PI hearings, (i)  so that the true picture can be seen and pressure applied to HMCTS and others to increase the numbers, and (ii) so that the Bar Council can continue to illustrate to government the problems the profession is facing from the downturn in civil work and try to improve government financial assistance.  Several sets of chambers helped us with data from which we can conclude that, overall, hearing numbers are down by about 50% across the whole period.  Even allowing for a modest improvement in the last three weeks, hearings are still down by about 43%.  Our analysis is here.  We will deploy it as far and as forcefully as we can.  Huge thanks are due to Anna Symington and Gareth McAloon for their work on this.

Listing priorities

We have been working with the Bar Council to try to get civil listing priorities for the County Courts adjusted, so that more hearings take place.  Some success can be seen in the revised priorities from 18th May (here) but we will continue to press for further revisions so that, for example, there is a positive presumption that CCMCs etc should take place.  We are told that the senior judiciary are alive to the threat to the livelihood of the junior Bar, and they have asked for continuing feedback on listing priorities, which we will give.

Local guidance and protocols

Most DCJs are grappling with the ongoing lockdown as best they can. Some have set up local working parties for listing and remote working.  PIBA has members on those.  We have been making suggestions based on your feedback to us.  In the last few days we have had revised protocols or guidance from DCJs in Manchester, Birmingham and the West Country.  The Manchester one is comprehensive, and includes useful suggestions on remote advocacy and conducting video trials.  Those and other guidance documents are all on the PIBA website here.  Please familiarise yourself with them.


We have all had to become familiar with Teams, Skype for Business, Zoom, Starleaf and more.  HMCTS have accelerated the roll-out of their own, bespoke video hearing system CVP (Cloud Video Platform).  Mostly used in criminal courts so far, we are trying to find out details of its introduction in our sphere.  Some of you may have used it already.  We will let you know more, and provide training, when we can.


Since I last wrote, HHJ Melissa Clarke, Jayne Adams QC, Simon Fox QC and Mr Justice Edis have all undertaken live-streamed webinars for us.  They were all excellent, and we are very grateful.  They can be watched here.  Next week’s webinars on the Ogden Tables (by Emma Corkill) are over-subscribed and you will have been emailed about the waiting lists already.  On 3rd June we will have David Heaton QC and James Rowley QC on provisional damages.  On 17th June Charles Bagot QC, Huw Davies and James Prestell will talk about remote negotiations and hearings - latest developments and practical tips.  Please join us for those.

Kind regards

Steven Snowden QC
PIBA Chair