Life as a Pupil Barrister

Whilst only 3 weeks into Pupillage, I can tell you that I both thoroughly enjoy being a Pupil barrister and that it is unlike any job I have ever done. Becket Chambers has been immensely welcoming to me and every member of Chambers has made an effort to chat, say hello and help me with things when needed.

I have been thrust into the fast-paced environment of life at the Bar. I have been able to experience a wealth of different matters already in the short time I have been here. Each hearing bringing different areas of law, cases and work required of me and so far I have been involved in legal research, as well as different areas of drafting.

I previously worked for a Local Authority where I was fortunate enough to appear as an Advocate Council Officer in the Magistrates Court; and this along with the rigorous advocacy training set by the Inns of Court that I am soon to undertake, will put me in good stead for when I start conducting my own cases. Nothing, however, can compare to what I am learning whilst shadowing and gaining knowledge from experienced Members of Chambers.

Highlights of cases so far include a claim for a Litter Abatement Order which culminated in an issue over the responsibility of highways in a Local Authority area. The claim was brought against Canterbury City Council, for whom Becket Chambers were acting, regarding the cleanliness of the A2 and the Thanet Way. The Council had acted properly in clearing and cleaning the grass verges of these roads, for which they are responsible, but the dispute came as the highways themselves had not been cleaned. The Council contended this was not their responsibility. The A2 and the Thanet Way are trunk roads which are classed as ‘special roads’ within the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Consequently, these roads are the responsibility of Highways England and Kent County Council, respectively. Thus the application was dismissed on the grounds that the wrong authority was being pursued.

Another case of interest involved an application for costs where there was seizure of cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and subsequent detention applications, following which the cash was returned. The first consideration in relation to this hearing was whether the Magistrates Court could hear an application for costs as there was no previous complaint, as required by Section 64 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980. Regulation 11(2) of the Magistrates Courts (Detention and Forfeiture of Cash) Rules 2002 states that applications are deemed complaints in cases of detention and forfeiture of cash. This meant that, in this case, the application for detention would be taken as the complaint and the application for costs could proceed. The case of R (on the application of Perinpanathan) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court [2010] EWCA Civ 40 then needed to be considered. Due to the facts of the case, including the concealment of the cash, the use of coffee to deter sniffer dogs and the applicant’s initial denial that the money was his, it was found that the National Crime Agency had acted properly and reasonably in seizing and detaining the cash. Subsequently, no order for costs was made.

As Becket Chambers is a common law set with a wide range of expertise, I am sure I will continue to see a varied and wide reaching caseload to ultimately prepare me for my second six.

Pupillage is a unique experience in which I am continuously learning and of which, I cannot wait to continue.

For a more detailed analysis of the Perinpanathan case, please refer to the previous article written by Samuel Davis entitled ‘Costs against Public Authorities in Non-CPR Civil Proceedings in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts – Heads They Win, Tails You Lose’