Message from Claudio Visco, BIC Chair, Sept 2017

Claudio Visco

Dear BIC friends,

Sydney is right around the corner!

The various sessions planned for the Annual Conference of the IBA, 8-13 October in Sydney, Australia, have been finalised and the Programme looks excellent. The Bar Issues Commission has organised a number of these sessions, which I shall shortly outline. Before doing so, I'd like to highlight just a few of the activities that the BIC has been involved with recently.

I am delighted to report that our 12th Annual IBA Bar Leaders' Conference in Belfast attracted our strongest attendance yet and the feedback on the sessions has been exceptional. Could you please mark in the location and dates for the next one: Oslo, 23-26 May 2018.  The BIC Officers are always seeking ideas from you for relevant subjects to present, so please approach us with any suggestions on topics you would like to see the BIC address.

The BIC and the IBA's Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee launched a project with the support of the PPID Activity Fund, which envisages to produce a document of guidelines that will provide a list of underlying principles that should apply to any legal aid system. The first international Legal Aid Roundtable was held on 24 May 2017 in conjunction with the Bar Leaders' Conferenceand the IBA Mid-Year Meetingin Belfast. Renowned academic and practical experts from all over the world gathered and discussed their experiences with legal aid systems in various jurisdictions. After the successful Roundtable a consultation paper was produced which was converted into questionnaire which was sent the bar member organisations and other IBA committees to complete. The result of the consultation is going to be analysed with the assistance of the Bingham Centre and will be presented in Sydney.

The IBA/OECD Task Force was formed with the aim of developing recommendations to the governments of the OECD countries and to create rules on professional conduct and standards for lawyers providing legal services in the situation where there is a suspicion that the client is engaging in illegal activities. A survey questionnaire was circulated to the IBA's Member Organisations and the responses are currently being analysed. The members of the Task Force will meet in Sydney to discuss next steps.

Following discussions in Washington, DC, the IBA Management Board of the IBA decided to engage in a review of the goals that the Association should be pursuing in the future. A significant amount of work has already been accomplished, also with the valuable help of Guy Beringer, former managing partner of A&O and current non-executive chairman of UKEF Board, acting as facilitator. Under the direction of IBA President, Martin Solc, working groups have now been established to analyse the issues identified and make proposals to the Management Board in a number of specific areas. The BIC, Bar Associations and all the divisions of the IBA will participate to the working groups. Martin Solc and I will submit a presentation at the BIC Bar Leaders' Forum to be held in Sydney on Monday, 9 October at 11.00. The working groups will aim at providing findings and recommendations before the Management Board's meeting taking place in Prague in February 2018.

The BIC International Trade in Legal Services Committee (BIC ITILS) has prepared, with funding from the PPID Activity Fund, a toolkit of practical information for bars and other competent authorities for domestic lawyer regulation as it relates to international trade in legal services. They will be launching this toolkit at their session in Sydney and it will also be made available online.

For further information on BIC projects and activities, please see my report in the IBA Council agenda.

For those of you who will be joining us in Sydney, we have compiled a list of sessions, meetings and activities that may be of interest to you. Details on these BIC sessions and activities in Sydney are available here.

Could I particularly draw your attention to the BIC Open Forum on Monday from 11.00 - 12.30, which in addition to updating the Member Organisations on the activities of the BIC, will present the opportunity to further discuss the strategic planning of the IBA.

And after all that hard work and concentration, there will be an opportunity to relax and catch up with friends and colleagues at the BIC dinner on Thursday evening. There are limited spaces available for this dinner, so if you don't yet have a ticket, please ensure that you update your conference registration as soon as possible.

The BIC Bar Executives have been very productive, planning their six-monthly Bar Executive Officers Committee meeting, kindly hosted in Sydney by the Law Society of New South Wales. This half-day programme on Tuesday 10 October will include a working session to discuss the topic of 'Rise of the robots - will artificial intelligence make lawyers obsolete?'

This meeting is intended for CEOs, bar association executives and international liaison officers. For further information and for the latest issue of the Bar Executives Exchange newsletter, please click here.

Many of us will soon be making the journey to Sydney, and if I have not yet met you, please do come up and introduce yourself. Together with my fellow BIC Officers, we look forward immensely to seeing you all again at the IBA Annual Conference!

Best wishes,


Claudio Visco

Chair, Bar Issues Commission