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International Law: Diary of a Criminal Solicitor
I got out of my bed and started getting myself ready on the first day of the trial when I received a telephone call from the barrister's clerk. I knew that something would be wrong if I was receiving a call this early in the morning. I was told that the barrister had been injured in an accident and that they were unable to attend Court due to the extent of their injuries. I then said the words, "What are we going to do then?" The clerk said, "I don't know, what do you want to do?" I thought for a short while and then said, "Don't worry, leave it to me".
The case was not the kind of matter where a new barrister could read the papers and be up to speed within a few hours. There was no point trying to get a new barrister to the Court to deal with the matter. I took the matter in to my own hands and traveled to the Court knowing that there would not be a barrister to represent the interests of my Client. On my arrival at Court I spoke with the Clerk who was kind enough to seek the permission of the trial Judge who granted me rights of audience to appear in the Crown Court and represent my Client.
At no stage did I ever think that I should step in the breach and take the case on by actually doing the trial - my point of view was that provided the Judge would give me rights of audience I could then make an application to adjourn the trial in order to arrange new Counsel, allow time for new Counsel to prepare for the matter, and then have a conference with my Client and his new Counsel.
All went well in Court and my trial was adjourned despite the Prosecution barrister being a pedant suggesting that my Client's case could start in the afternoon with a new barrister! I quite enjoyed the experience of exchanging blows with the Prosecution barrister during the course of my application as he had been particularly difficult in pre-trial hearings regarding disclosure.
Once the case had been adjourned I let out a sigh of relief. The nightmare scenario that I had thought about on many occasions had been simple enough to solve. I have now made a mental note that I really should pull my finger out and put the finishing touches to my solicitor advocates portfolio so that I can actually obtain rights of audience to appear in the Crown Court to deal with hearings such as mentions, plea and case management hearings, and trials.
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