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COVID-19 and the operation of Chambers: important information for our clients and contacts

17th March 2020

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are taking various steps – to reduce risks to our clients, contacts, barristers and staff while ensuring the efficient operation of Chambers – as follows:

 

  • Since 20.03.20 all barristers and staff are working from home.
  • We will have full access to our system and emails will be dealt with as usual.   Calls to Chambers will be forwarded to the relevant mobiles, but if – wherever possible – you could email rather than telephone us, it would greatly help us in maintaining the swift and effective service we would always want to give you.
  • We understand that you may well want to have a conversation but if you email us first  – if possible with brief details of your enquiry – we will call you back promptly.  If you do not have the email address of the person you wish to communicate with, please use clerks@serjeantsinn.com.
  • We will be liaising as necessary to arrange for conferences to be conducted by either telephone or video.
  • We are also asking that material is provided digitally rather than in hard copy format.  If you have to provide papers in hard copy please email us and we will be in touch to discuss a solution.

Members of Chambers have produced a number of blog posts and articles on issues arising from Coronavirus in our practice areas: these are available here.

In these unprecedented times our barristers are available as usual for remote access hearings, mediations, RTMs and meetings.   As a result of the many emergency medical treatment applications which we have conducted by telephone with out-of-hours judges over numerous years, we are well placed to advise as to whether any particular hearing or other process should be conducted remotely, bearing in mind the interests of the client as well as other relevant factors in each case.

Our team have significant expertise with remote working by Skype, Skype for Business, Zoom, MS Teams, and Blue Jeans, and we would also be happy to discuss the practicalities and set up.

If you have any questions or concerns please do let us know by emailing our Joint Chief Executives, Martin Dyke and Catherine Calder, at ChiefExecutives@serjeantsinn.com

Full contact details are available on our website here.

We look forward to continuing our effective working relationship with you during the pandemic and wish you well in these testing times.


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Collated advice and guidance from Serjeants’ Inn on issues arising from the coronavirus pandemic in our practice areas

7th April 2020

06.04.20  COVID-19: Allocation and withdrawal of ventilation – the urgent need for a national policy
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, George Thomas, Katie Gollop QC and Sophia Roper

01.04.20  A life worth living: Continuation of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration in an incapacitous but sentient man
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, Nageena Khalique QC

31.03.20   Legislation and guidance – what is in force
UK Police Law Blog, Elliot Gold

31.03.20   The quickly mutating Coronavirus legislation – drafting anomalies and police powers
UK Police Law Blog, Dijen Basu QC

30.03.20  Corona Crisis: Standard of Care
UK Healthcare Law Blog, Eloise Power

30.03.20   Guidance to Appropriate Authorities: police misconduct hearings during the coronavirus restrictions
UK Police Law Blog, Aaron Rathmell & Cecily White

27.03.20   Skype in the Court of Protection – the courts in the time of Coronavirus
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, Michael Mylonas QC, Nageena Khalique QC & Sophia Roper

27.03.20   Coroners’ Courts open for urgent and essential business only
UK Inquest Law Blog, Briony Ballard

27.03.20   Joggergate: How frequently is it necessary to exercise in Wales?
UK Police Law Blog, George Thomas

26.03.20   Skype in the Court of Protection
New Law Journal, Nageena Khalique QC & Sophia Roper

26.03.20   Lockdown Regulations made: restrictions and police powers
UK Police Law Blog, Dijen Basu QC & Elliot Gold

25.03.20   What powers does “take such action as is necessary to enforce” give to police officers?
UK Police Law Blog, Dijen Basu QC, George Thomas & Elliot Gold

24.03.20   The Coronavirus Bill – police powers explained
UK Police Law Blog, Dijen Basu QC

24.03.20   Coronavirus Lockdown: Police Powers? What Police Powers?
UK Police Law Blog, George Thomas

23.03.20  Skype in the Court of Protection
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, Nageena Khalique QC & Sophia Roper

13.03.20  Prison conditions and Coronavirus
Serjeants’ Inn News Page, Hannah Hinton

13.03.20   Now online. Coronavirus police powers and duties talks
UK Police Law Blog, Elliot Gold

05.03.20   CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE
New Law Journal, David Lawson

12.02.20   The UK Coronavirus regulations – legal powers to control a public health crisis
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, David Lawson

11.02.20   The power to quarantine
UK Medical Decision Law Blog, David Lawson


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COVID-19: Allocation and withdrawal of ventilation – the urgent need for a national policy

6th April 2020

This blog is written towards the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. We are not yet three weeks in, and do not know what the future holds.  This post has already been updated once since publication and in the fast paced news of coronavirus, more updates will come.  This post therefore may not be an exhaustive analysis, but we will revisit the subject as and when developments require.  We would also welcome any relevant new information on the topic, especially from those at the front line: please send to sroper@serjeantsinn.com.

The Government is clear that there is not, and is unlikely to be, a situation where there are more patients nationally requiring ventilation than there are ventilators.  If achieved, avoidance of the situation faced by doctors in Italy and Spain will come about by a combination of increased supply of ventilators, moving patients and ventilators around to match supply to demand, and the application of tough triage criteria, so that access to ventilation is limited to those likely to make a recovery.

But avoidance cannot be guaranteed. Local surges in demand will occur, and may lead to temporary shortages.  The risk of demand exceeding supply exists.  News reports in The Guardian and Daily Mail suggest that this has already happened in some hospitals.

Were that risk to eventuate, the withdrawal issue would arise:

Can a ventilator ever lawfully be removed from a ventilated patient who may be deriving benefit from it, for the purpose of providing that ventilator to different patient?

If it can, how should withdrawal and reallocation decisions be made?

In our view, these questions should be asked and answered now, before the risk eventuates, and in the profoundest hope that it never does.

Read the full article on our UK Medical Decision Law Blog.


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Sir Robert Francis QC

1st April 2020

This is to announce that Sir Robert Francis QC, who has been a barrister in these Chambers since 1973 and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1992, has decided to retire from regular practice with effect from 31 March 2020.

Maintaining his links with Serjeants’ Inn as an Associate Tenant, Robert will continue to be available to undertake work connected with inquiries, reviews, investigations, mediations and employment processes, while pursuing his work as Chair of Healthwatch England, non-executive director of the CQC and President of the Patients Association. He will also continue as a Governing Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, where he is currently Reader-Elect.

Robert was knighted in 2014 for services to healthcare and patients. A leading specialist in medical law, including mental health treatment and capacity issues, clinical negligence and professional discipline, he has chaired several important health-related inquiries, including two into the care provided by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, and the Freedom to Speak Up Review into the treatment of NHS staff who raise concerns. He has acted in many leading cases which have shaped the law and the society it reflects, ranging from the first PVS withdrawal of treatment case in 1993 (re Tony Bland, the last victim of the Hillsborough disaster) to – most recently – the Undercover Policing Inquiry (as Leading Counsel for the National Police Chiefs’ Council). He was Joint Head of Chambers from 2000 to 2009.

Robert comments, “Since I started in 1973, Serjeants’ Inn has grown from a tiny, young set into the major player it is today in medical, police and public law, as well as financial and other regulatory sectors. I am immensely privileged to have played a small part in that development. Giving up my practising certificate brings mixed emotions, but the time has come for a change of direction. I look forward to being able to contribute in various ways to the cultural learning and development of the public and private sectors. Serjeants’ Inn has been my professional and emotional home for so long; so I am delighted to be able to retain my links here. I look forward to being available to assist in inquiries, investigations and similar work.”

Angus Moon QC and Michael Horne QC, Joint Heads of Chambers at Serjeants’ Inn, comment, “The pioneer of the Duty of Candour and the Freedom to Speak Up agenda now embedded in the NHS, Robert has been a colossus bestriding the medical and legal landscapes for four decades. Serjeants’ Inn has been honoured to have him as a member of Chambers casting his gold dust for the benefit of others throughout that time. With his wisdom and warmth, we are delighted that he will continue to be so closely associated with Chambers’ life and work as an Associate Tenant.”

Robert can be retained to chair or assist with inquiries, arbitrations and mediations by contacting Lee Johnson, Senior Clerk, as usual on LJohnson@serjeantsinn.com and 020 7427 5000.


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Skype in the Court of Protection – The courts in the time of coronavirus: a personal perspective on the first remote hearing during the crisis

1st April 2020

Mostyn J hears trial concerning withdrawal of life sustaining treatment with five parties and at least 20 participants over Skype for Business  (REVISED POST)*

In December 2019, Keehan J presided over a directions hearing in a serious medical treatment application brought by a CCG.  A dispute had arisen as to whether or not it was in the best interests of A, a man in his 70s who suffered a stroke in 2016, to continue to receive clinically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH).  A’s daughter believes CANH should be removed; his GP thinks it should stay in place. A is not in a prolonged disorder of consciousness: despite significant impairment, he communicates with those caring for him in gestures and occasional words, and enjoys seeing animals and children, and hearing poetry.

In itself, this would be an unusually difficult and sensitive case for the Court of Protection, and Keehan J listed it for four days, including a day of judicial reading time.  As preparation progressed, it became clear that it was going to be a tight timetable. Between them, the five parties (CCG, A, represented by the Official Solicitor, A’s daughter, A’s GP, and the local authority) were calling eleven witnesses to give oral evidence, including three independent expert consultants; all five parties would be making closing submissions; and the evidence available to the court ran to well over 4000 pages.  What makes this case even more unusual is that the judge listed it to start on Tuesday 17 March 2020, less than 24 hours after the nation was directed to avoid all non-essential contact to stem the rising tide of Covid19.

Read more about this case on our UK Medical Decision Law Blog.


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Andrew Hockton successfully defends dentist at GDC

23rd March 2020

At a hearing before the Professional Conduct Committee of the GDC, Mr A, a general dental practitioner, faced an allegation that his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of misconduct consisting of alleged dishonesty and multiple clinical failures over a number of years. The clinical failures were admitted and the dishonesty allegations, which were denied, were found not proved. Having regard to the extensive evidence of remediation in relation to the clinical failures, which were deemed to constitute misconduct, the Committee held that Mr A’s fitness to practise was not impaired. Mr A was represented by Andrew Hockton, instructed by Joanna Flowers of the MPS.


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Prison conditions and Coronavirus

13th March 2020

Evidence is emerging of the risks posed to prisoners of Coronavirus. Hannah Hinton argued in a Romanian prison conditions case before Mrs Justice Styen that individuals facing extradition during the crisis were at extra risk. In that case there was evidence that a detainee at Bacau prison had a suspected case of coronavirus and he was evacuated from the prison and the Court where he had visited was temporarily shut down. It transpired he did not have the virus and there was therefore no arguable basis for refusing extradition on that point but the situation is such that it should be kept under review as a potential basis for a postponement of extradition.


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Serjeants’ Inn is committed to pro bono work and provides financial and practical support to Friends in Law and First 100 Years: read more

Specialisms

 

Serjeants’ Inn specialises in important, high profile medical, police, regulatory, criminal and public law cases, often involving political, ethical or social issues: read more

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Serjeants’ Inn frequently deals with urgent applications including injunctions and declarations and provides a 24 hour service for matters requiring immediate assistance: read more

Awards

Angus Moon QC 1986 | 2006    Joint Head of Chambers
Michael Horne QC 1992 | 2016    Joint Head of Chambers
James Watson QC 1979 | 2000
Adrian Hopkins QC 1984 | 2003
John Beggs QC 1989 | 2009
Michael Mylonas QC 1988 | 2012
Chris Daw QC 1993 | 2013
Tom Crowther QC 1993 | 2013
John de Bono QC 1995 | 2014
Dijen Basu QC 1994 | 2015
Nageena Khalique QC 1994 | 2015
Katie Gollop QC 1993 | 2016
Simon Fox QC 1994 | 2016
Bridget Dolan QC 1997 | 2016
Gerard Boyle QC 1992 | 2017
Sarah Clarke QC 1994 | 2017
Debra Powell QC 1995 | 2017
Jon Holl-Allen QC 1990 | 2018
Jemma Lee 2010
Liam Duffy 2012
His Honour Brian Barker CBE QC 1969 | 1990    Associate Member
Sir Robert Francis QC 1973 | 1992    Associate Member
Natalie Cargill 2016    Associate Member
Huw Lloyd 1975    Door Tenant
Siobhan Goodrich 1980    Door Tenant
Susan Burden 1985    Door Tenant
Charles Foster 1988    Door Tenant
Malcolm Lim 1989    Door Tenant
Anthony Jackson 1995    Door Tenant
Jonathan Davies 2003    Door Tenant
Benedict Wray 2009    Door Tenant
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COVID-19 and the operation of Chambers: important information for our clients and contacts

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