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Absconding Clients: what to do if your defendant has absconded

Purpose: To provide assistance to barristers who conduct hearings where their client has absconded
Scope of application: All practising criminal barristers
Issued by: The Ethics Committee
First reviewed: 01/10/2017
Last reviewed: 01/08/2023
Status and effect: Please see the notice at end of this document. This is not "guidance" for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4.

The Bar Council’s Ethical Enquiries Helpline receives regular requests for assistance from barristers who attend court only to find that their lay client has absconded. The requests tend to concern whether the barrister can continue to act on behalf of the lay client, and if so the extent to which s/he can participate in the hearing.

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Important Notice

This document has been prepared by the Bar Council to assist barristers on matters of professional conduct and ethics. It is not “guidance” for the purposes of the BSB Handbook I6.4, and neither the BSB nor a disciplinary tribunal nor the Legal Ombudsman is bound by any views or advice expressed in it. It does not comprise – and cannot be relied on as giving – legal advice. It has been prepared in good faith, but neither the Bar Council nor any of the individuals responsible for or involved in its preparation accept any responsibility or liability for anything done in reliance on it. For fuller information as to the status and effect of this document, please see here.

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