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Returning Instructions in Criminal Cases: R v Daniels [2021] EWCA Crim 44

Purpose: To assist counsel in criminal cases to determine in what circumstances they must or may return instructions to appear at trial on grounds of professional embarrassment (and cognate grounds).
Scope of application: All barristers practising in the field of criminal law
Issued by: The Ethics committee of the Bar Council
First reviewed: 07/02/2022
Last reviewed: 01/03/2024
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.

Recent authority has highlighted the difficulty faced by counsel in deciding, after having accepted instructions, whether circumstances have arisen which either oblige them to withdraw from representing their lay client, or permit them to do so. Difficulty arises most acutely when that situation arises very shortly before, or during, a trial. This guidance has been prepared to assist counsel in such a position.

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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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