Sunday, May 15, 2016

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Chandra Sekar is a leading junior barrister (called in 1996) whose main specialisms are criminal defence, employment and human rights. Chandra can be instructed through a solicitor (and can recommend solicitors) or be instructed directly by members of the public through the Direct Access Scheme for which he has been accredited since 2009.  Chandra has always acted for individuals against the State or corporate bodies, and has considered his law practice as an extension of his background in human rights.

Chandra's experience in criminal cases includes successfully acting in fraud, serious violence (including murder), sex and drugs cases. Chandra is a specialist in successfully defending cases involving all aspects of scientific and technical evidence and also has regularly appeared in the Court of Appeal.

Chandra also practices in Employment (mainly discrimination cases), Public Law and Civil Law matters.  For Direct Access cases his normal practice, if approached directly by a member of the public, is to provide preliminary advice on an informal basis, including as to any formal agreement that may be necessary should he be instructed. 

Prior Experience
Chandra's experience prior to the law was of working in the arts and campaigning, notably being a founder-member and co-ordinator (in 1986 with Jerry Dammers and Dali Tambo) for Artists Against Apartheid (who put on the 1986 Clapham Common Concert and the 1988 Mandela Concert at Wembley Stadium).  Following this he worked with his brother (Satish Sekar) on miscarriages of justice (including the Cardiff Three) and throughout his legal training he did cases for the Free Representation Unit in Employment, Social Security and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (as was).

Contents Page



Terms of Practice
Chambers' Facilities and Languages
Other Experience and Skills
Pro Bono
Useful Legal Links
Contact and Website Design

Chandra’s other interests

Fees and Terms of Practice


Fees
1. Criminal 
Fees are at standard Legal Aid rates unless the case is private in which case it is negotiable.  My standard private hourly rate is £200/hr.  All Criminal matters are deemed to be agreed under the General Council of the Bar's "Standard Conditions of Contract for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012" unless specifically stated otherwise in writing.

2. Employment/Civil
 Fees are negotiable and dependent on my case assessment, mode of payment (private, insurance, union, etc) and client's means. I do consider some cases for Conditional Fees on a case by case basis provided I get the brief for assessment sufficiently in advance (see pro forma CFA agreement - please note this does not constitute an offer). I would like to aim at the situation where I get a case at the earliest opportunity and provide an advice and interlocutory applications for a fee with the main hearing fee agreement being determined once that has been done.  I generally try to do it in stages as follows:



1.        Each stage will be subject to a separate agreement unless explicitly agreed to in writing.

2.        The general stages of a case are (subject to individual cases) :

(1)          Initial meeting including getting basic details, case assessment and agreement/contract;
(2)          Advice and drafting of initial case up to and including issue of proceedings (including settlement offers/negotiations);
(3)         Conduct (where conduct includes preparation and advice) of interlocutory stages (though interlocutory hearings will gnerally be covered by a separate agreement for each hearing), through to appearance at, and conduct of, the main hearing;


(4)          Advice on and/or appearance and conduct of any appeal or hearing after the main hearing (e.g. disposal, enforcement, costs, etc).

3.        This sample agreement only covers Stages 1 and 2 and specifically the following work for which the fees set out below apply:
(1)          Initial Meeting and drafting Appeal grounds;
(2)          Advice on internal disciplinary Appeal and grievance procedure;
(3)          Drafting of documents in connections with internal disciplinary Appeal and grievance procedure;
(4)          Drafting of Prohibited Conduct Questionnaire;
(5)          Drafting settlement agreements;
(6)          Negotiating and communicating with Respondent’s solicitors with a view to settlement and/or advising the client on such negotiations;
4.     This sample agreement does not cover representation for any other work, hearings or meetings.  Any other hearings will only be represented if payment is received in advance as per the scale in Appendix 3.  Any other work or hearings must be covered by a separate agreement or written variation signed by both parties of this agreement.

          

Practice

I aim at the following in terms of my relationships with my clients, whether instructing solicitors ("IS") or members of the public through direct access, though please note that if a client is actually present at a hearing then I would generally only have a verbal debrief after the hearing. I prefer to work with both from an early stage in the case so that there is a common thread of preparation from the beginning to the final hearing (and have done so throughtout my career at the Bar) and subject to availability try to do all Court/Tribunal appearances myself for the same reasons (and find it assists with the final outcomes).


Availability
I will let regular IS know my diary on a regular basis so they can plan cases and to try to hold myself open for specific hearings in specific cases.
Other solicitors I will try to notify of potential clashes in sufficient time for them to determine what they wish to do. Enquiries can be made at any time as to my availability by either mobile phone or e-mail.

Contactability

Outside court hours the easiest way to contact me is on my mobile if it is urgent, though if advice is sought on specific matters or cases it is best to send an e-mail as I will then be able to have all the materials at hand to answer any particular question. I try to reply to all e-mails within 24 hours in accordance with Bar Council guidelines save when on holiday.

Chambers Facilities and Languages

Angell Park Chambers has the following facilities (see also Chandra's IT page):

1. E-mail – I much prefer correspondence by e-mail as I will reply within 24 hours and it makes incorporating advice or a template much quicker.


2.
Document Scanning – I have scanned all the papers I receive since 2000 as it allows me to find things much more quickly and to have a complete digital record of any case. Each case is then put on my laptop and/or cloud storage and external hard drive backup so that it can be easily accessed and searched during the course of a case. I can advise solicitors as to the hardware and software they need to do this if they wish to have this facility, not least because it makes it much easier to transfer papers to solicitors and/or clients.

3. Cloud storage and access - All papers and recordings (audio and video) are automatically synced with cloud storage facility.  I have shared access with my employment clients to their papers since 2007 this way and it considerably speeds up all processes and enables lay and professional clients to be fully abreast of the own case.  I have assisted sociitotrs firms set up the same facilities after they have shared mine and appreciated its considerable benefits.

4. Video conferencing - I can have a video conference with anyone with compatible facilities, including prisons. IS obviously needs facilities as well but I can advise on this.

5. Interactive witness documents - using video conferencing and cloud storage I can then work with clients to produce documents using track changes and the like cross referenced to the documents and indices in the trial bundles.

6. Video Image analysis facilities including frame by frame analysis and prints of individual frames. Useful for identifying material for experts and will copy videos into digital format for solicitors and clients.

7. Expert witness database and advice including being instructed solely for the purpose of what kind of expert should be found (and who) as done in technical evidnce cases on wtiness testimony and unreliability, DNA, computer recovery, etc.

8. Backup of documents - all documents are backed up to a virtual backup and a hard drive. When cases are finished they are archived.

9. I am available to advise informally and free on all cases on the phone or email , whether for solicitors or direct access clients.  For direct access clients I would normally limit it to 15 minutes and ask them to fill in a standard assessment form thereafter and send basic documents to assess whether we should have a formal agreement and I be formally instructed. 


10. Website with useful legal links

Languages

French (usable), Spanish (rusty) and Malayalam

Friday, May 13, 2016

Other Experience and Skills

Prior to coming to the Bar I mainly worked in the arts and campaigning, predominantly on the administration and accounts sides though I had experience of the more exciting bits as well. I have been self-employed since 1987 mainly doing finance and general administration/ management or "trouble-shooting".

Accounts
I have been doing accounts since 1986 for individuals, companies, plcs, charities, campaigning organisations and my last two chambers. This includes spreadsheet and computer bookkeeping (such as Sage and Sun) and all forms of tax (PAYE, VAT, Corporation, etc) including returns. I have also prepared formal company accounts though my experience tended to be with small or medium sized businesses.


Information Technology
I have been working with IT since 1984 and my work has included programming (on a limited level), project management, managing and developing a legal software company (while at the Bar), DTP, Excel (including programming and/or analysis – I designed working forms for doing Crown Court and Family graduated fees), most wp programmes, most accounts programmes, scanning software and hardware, and general bits and bobs. I would say I am a talented amateur rather than a professional in IT but I have access to a lot of professional knowledge (through the various things I have done and contacts I have made) and if I don’t know the answer I can generally find someone who does.

Administration
To cut it short I have administered all the types of organisations mentioned in the Accounts section (at all levels, including being solely responsible).

Other
My main experience was with Artists Against Apartheid (1986 – 1990), working with people at the top of their respective professions and so learning how they did things. I got experience of production and management of concerts (from small to the largest, working with a huge variety of bands, managers, producers, journalists, lawyers and the whole music biz thing), production and distribution of videos, merchandising (including negotiating a national distribution deal and mail-order for AAA products), press and publicity (including getting locked into a backstage caravan with Lynne Franks and an emotional Boy George), campaigning, lobbying, contact with major political organizations such as the ANC and lots of other things.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pro Bono

I have always done pro bono work, whether formally or informally instructed since I first went to study law in 1992, and continue to do so, particularly in Social Security cases where there is a  vulnerable client (such as asylum seekers or people with a disability) or an interesting/ important legal point.  Social Security cases are not funded until Court of Appeal level and so it can be very difficult for people of limited means to overturn results which often leave them destitute, or homeless, or both. 

I was a Free Representation Unit (FRU) advocate since my second term of CPE in 1993 (my longest case I picked up in 1993 and finished in 2001!). I was Chair in 1996-97, Secretary in 1994-95, 1995-96, and Treasurer in 1997-98. I recommend that any aspiring advocate could not get better experience than to do cases for FRU and that they would find it a very rewarding experience, personally and in their career. Being an outsider to the law when I was trying to become a barrister I do not think I would have made it had I not had the training I had from the caseworkers and the experience I got doing real cases with real people in real Tribunals.

I have also done other legal voluntary work which includes work with the CRE, Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre, Inquest and the Rolan Adams Family Campaign (a racist killing in South-East London in 1991). I have also assisted my brother (Satish Sekar) on his cases including the Cardiff 3, Mills and Poole, Satpal Ram and many others.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Contact and Credits

My contact details are :

T : 0207-737-5957
F : 0207-978-8226
Mobile : 07771-536010


Please note that for non-solicitors I would find it much easier to answer enquiries by email rather than phone. If you have to phone please do so in office hours on my mobile but bear in mind I will not generally be avaialble during Court hours.
 

Website Design and Credits
 

Any faults with this website are due to me as I have designed it and written all the copy. However I would like to thank Francis Norton who told me how to do the basics in ten minutes flat on a Merry Christmas evening and Rohan Jayasekera for further hints.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chandra’s other interests

To relax Chandra plays tennis, 5-a-side football and occasional rugby (for Ealing FC (RU)).  He also plays guitar and his proudest possession is his late 60s Gibson SG Special guitar that he got using savings from his first job as a pipe-fitter when he was 16 years old.