The Ebsworth Lecture: Looking the other way, Lord Justice Moses

PUBLISHED February 19, 2012

Lord Justice Moses delivered the Ebsworth Lecture on 14 February 2012 entitled ?Looking the other way? in which he examined the proposals for the Quality Assessment Scheme for Advocates and in particular judicial assessment. 

?To spot those who excel is not difficult. To report the ill-prepared, inadequate foozler is to be encouraged. But the regular day-in and day-out marking and measuring of the average advocate is something, I suggest, wholly different. It will be relentless, fraught with difficulty and for the reasons I have suggested, damaging to that delicate and subtle relationship between advocate and trial judge.?

?The good advocate is a brave and happy advocate?can anyone, who has spent any time in court listening to advocacy, really believe that a system of marking will encourage, influence or inspire, or will it deaden and crush in the pursuit of a bland and colourless uniformity??

He concluded that a better way of ensuring quality advocacy is to require all advocates attend courses at regular and frequent intervals.

?Anyone who attends courses and seminars appreciates that their essential value lies in meeting, listening and observing others, the sharing of skills and discussion. It is how the judicial college trains its judges and how the young advocates learn: for example in the advocacy courses conducted by the Inns and SE Circuit Summer Courses at Keble. There you can watch and listen to see how advocates learn and improve, by the encouragement and suggestions of the more experienced colleague and judge. The Bar Standards Board should require the advocate, civil or criminal, to attend such courses at regular and frequent intervals, and to participate in discussions and exercises, and watch how their colleagues throw off the bad habits acquired as they grow older but no wiser in the performance of their advocacy.?