Crime Team - Q & A with Andrew Hill

Author: Clerk
In: Article Published: Tuesday 07 July 2020


Andrew has over 30 years of experience as a barrister, initially both prosecuting and defending almost every type of criminal allegation. For the last 15 years he has specialised in criminal defence and has appeared in many high-profile cases of the utmost seriousness. He is known for his work in cases of murder, terrorism, major fraud, money laundering and sexual offences. He has built up a formidable reputation amongst lay clients and solicitors as an outstanding jury advocate.  

1. You were called to the Bar in 1982. What made you decide on a career at Bar? 

I was unsure of what direction my future in the law would take and decided to go and see what life at the Bar had to offer. I started pupillage and realised that it was an exciting life and suited my personality.

2. Having made that decision, what made you choose Criminal Law?

Initially, I decided to take the path of many 30 years ago, and be a general common law practitioner, appearing one day at the county court and another in the crown court.

3. Looking back at pupillage, do you have any stand out memories? 

I had the pleasure to spend 12 months with John Foy and Robert Glancy at 2 Dr Johnson's building, specialising in medical negligence and personal injury work. I recall playing cricket against Lawfords Solicitors, who along with Robin Thompson and Co, were the biggest work providers to Chambers. I was never a cricket player but I had a good eye for the ball due to my other sporting attributes and so whilst slogging the senior partner around the ground I was told in not too uncertain terms by a senior tenant to desist and get out. Caught and bowled next ball by the senior partner, thus securing another year of good work for Chambers. There is a message to all young barristers to know their market. 

4. Rolling forward to the present day, what would you describe as your specialism/ specialist area? 

The principles of criminal law encourage barristers to apply their skills in a wide range of areas, but in recent years I have spent greater parts of my professional life engaged in fraud, drugs, and money laundering matters.

5. What do you enjoy about that type of work? 

I think it is important to build up a good rapport with your client and this is the same in all cases, but specifically in fraud cases - allowing for the development of the client's defence.

6. Lockdown has seen a halting of criminal trials, describe your last day in court? 

Whilst at day 41 of a fraud case, involving allegations of defrauding central funds by a number of lawyers, the plug had to be pulled due to Covid-19.

7. What do you miss most about it? 

The best of days spent celebrating an early lunch and the fact that the trial would be re-started and listed in late 2021. The 'pulling of stumps' probably will result in a change of strategy by some of my colleagues when they review how disastrous a cut-throat defence can be!

We all miss the cut and thrust.

8. Describe your last day in virtual court? Do you see a future of ever-increasing virtual hearings? 

I appeared before two very different judges via skype and CVP. Whilst the one matter went well due to the judges' approach by allowing time for co-defending counsel to take instructions. Whilst, on the other matter the case ran less smoothly because I needed to speak to my client and there was simply no time available due to the length of the judge's list and his unhelpful approach. Technology prevented the smooth running of the case for reasons i am sure others have experienced from time to time, not least the lack of direct consultation with the client afforded to counsel.

Virtual courts require a greater investment to allow defence counsel the opportunity to discuss matters properly with their lay clients and ensure their client's voice is heard, rather than the time constraints imposed by the courts failing the interests of justice.

9. What is the biggest challenge about being a Criminal Barrister in 2020? 

Sadly, the challenges have become focussed on the ability to ensure one is profitably engaged, as opposed to the representation of individuals who need a barrister to stand up for them. Changes in the delivery of legal services and the requirements of case management have placed greater onus on all lawyers, but essentially the real challenges of representing clients remain the same today as it was when I first began at the bar.

The pressures and stress of the job are a challenge, but in recent times there has been greater recognition of this, and there is, to a degree, help at hand. 

10. What 3 pieces of advice would you give pupils and junior members of the Bar? 

(a) Always discuss your cases and approach with others;

(b) Courtesy in your approach to all, and make the most of every opportunity that arises; and

(c) Know your clients' case; know your strategy.