MR BRUCE HOULDER QC
Call To The Bar : July 1969 Grays Inn
Appointed Recorder : 1991
Appointed QC :1994
Bruce Houlder QC has practised criminal law for 39 years. He was appointed Queens Counsel in 1994. He was made an Assistant Recorder in 1986 and a Recorder of the Crown Court in 1991. He was appointed Director of Service Prosecutions in May 2008.
He is a former Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales, and member of the Criminal Committee of the Judicial Studies Board.
He has been appointed a tutor judge, qualified to facilitate training for judges who sit on criminal cases.
He is a member of the Law Commission’s Criminal Law Advisory Committee.
He has held major organisational, legal and training roles, as well as negotiating and law reform capacities on behalf of the Bar (see below).
As well as long experience in practice, he brings a wider breath of knowledge which is reflected in his involvement in the wider arena of the legal profession, media work on behalf of the profession, and through his extensive international experience.
He has wide experience in most kinds of criminal cases including the prosecution of murder, serious fraud, hijacking, police corruption, rape and computer fraud.
He is used to exploring new and developing areas of the criminal law.
He has wide experience in both prosecution and defence of serious criminal offences, and in appellate work.
Positions Held at time of appointment as Director of Service Prosecutions
Recorder of the Crown Court ticketed to try Serious Sexual Offences.
Chairman of the Bar Quality Advisory Panel which exists to deal with referrals by the judiciary and other professionals about the quality of members of Bar, and is responsible for dealing with any such referrals and giving advice where necessary.
A member of the Law Commission’s Criminal Law Advisory Panel,
A Director BarCo, the Bar’s Services company.
He is a Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn.
A Tutor Judge appointed to train judges for the Judicial Studies Board.
Relevant Previous Positions held
- 1995. He was elected for the first of 3 consecutive three-year terms as a member of the Bar Council.
- 1995. He was Chairman of Bar Council Working Party responsible for drafting Professional Complaints Rules and Procedure for the Bar.
- 1999-2000. He was Chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Bar Council (dealing with the media). He was Vice-Chairman 1998-1999.
- 2001-2002. He was Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association. He was Vice Chairman 2000-2001.
- 1999, 2000, July 2001 – July 2002, 2003, 2004. He was a Member of the General Management Committee of the Bar Council.
- 1995-1996. He was Vice-Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee of the Bar Council.
- 2003. He was Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Bar Council (supervising work of Bar’s Race Relations Committee, Sex Discrimination Committee, and Disability Committee, and responsible for the Equality Code for the Bar)
- 2000-2004. He served for 3 ½ years as a member of the Judicial Studies Board (Criminal Committee), and a member of the small working party that has designed training on the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for every judge up to and including High Court judges in England and Wales.
- 2005-2007. He was Vice-Chairman (Criminal) of the Bar’s IT Panel advising the Bar on matters relating to Information Technology.
He has been appointed as a Tutor Judge as part of a pilot scheme in training methods for judges as part of the new training scheme that the JSB intend to introduce in 2010.
He is a member of the Law Commission’s Criminal Law Advisory Panel, who meets regularly with Law Commissioners and others to consider papers in connection with reform of the criminal law.
He has also been a member of the International Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and a Fellow of the Society of Advanced Legal Studies.
He has gained very considerable international experience of legal training in criminal law and practice, including a project designed to bring about reform of the criminal procedure of the States of Mexico.
In 2000, he was Chairman of the Bar’s Working Group which responded to the Government proposals for “Establishing a Salaried Defence Service”, “Choice of Representative” and the “Draft Code for Salaried Defenders”.
He has chaired many committees responding to many public and legal consultations in the field of criminal law e.g., community policing, expert evidence, ASBOs, televising court proceedings etc.
He has recently frequently represented the Bar in meeting Departmental committees concerned with IT and the modernisation of the courts.
He was a Trainer on the Criminal Bar Association Proceeds of Crime Act course dealing with criminal confiscation legislation.
1995-1997. He was a member of the International Relations committee, Bar Council.
He was Chairman of his own Chamber’s Tenancy Committee 1990 – 1995
Since 2005 he has been Chairman of his own chamber’s Pupillage committee responsible for the training and selection of pupils.
For the last 3 years he has been a member of the London Criminal Courts Liaison Committee for the Probation Service.
Other relevant interests
- 1998 – 2008. Member of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences
- Volunteer for Bar Pro Bono Group work since inception
- Member, South Eastern Circuit of the Bar since 1969
- Advocacy Teacher (Gray’s Inn)
- Member European Circuit of the Bar
Bruce Houlder QC has been involved in the training of prosecutors and defence lawyers in the United States of America, in Pristina, Kosovo, and on four occasions at the War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
He is a trained advocacy teacher. He has lectured or managed legal programmes abroad many times, in Europe, Hong Kong (twice), Beijing (4 times), Kunming (once), Mexico (3 times), Brazil (3 times), in addition, he has worked extensively in Asia, specifically in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka on issues relating to criminal defence and prosecution, human rights and the criminal law generally.
He has worked for 5 days in Kabul Afghanistan, resident at the British Embassy whilst gathering evidence relevant to an appeal in London.
He has recently returned from a two-week period training Mexican lawyers in oral trial processes as part of the Mexican states’ reform programme for criminal justice. This is part of a four year funded scheme supported by the FCO and others in the region. This is a programme which he helped to design, and was described in correspondence dated 18 September 2006 by the Director of the British Council Mexico as “one of the most successful projects currently being funded by the Global Opportunities Fund and one which the FCO is promoting as a model project for others to follow”.
He is regularly called upon to speak to or host occasions for foreign legal delegations on behalf of the FCO or British Council. He has also been called upon as an oral examiner on British and US comparative law at a University in Paris.
Recent House of Lords cases
He has conducted the following cases on behalf of the DPP, in the House of Lords:
- R v. Preddy and others (landmark case on obtaining property by deception)
- R v. Burstow, R v. Ireland (cases on the infliction of injury by psychological harm)
- R v. Morgans (unlawful interception of communications)
- R v. Jackson, R v. Stanley (breathalyser law)
- R v. Bedwelty Justices ex parte Williams (magistrates’ powers)
- R v. Sargent (unlawful interception of communications)
- R v. I, R v. M, R v. H (affray and violent disorder)
- R v. Morgan-Smith (provocation in murder)
- R v. Drew (Automatic Life Sentences – Article 3 of the ECHR)
The Structures, Administration and Conduct of Criminal Justice in England and Wales by Bruce Houlder QC . Published by British Council 2006.
Crime reduction is a priority policy area for the governments of the UK, and there has been a substantial volume of new legislation and new initiatives led by the Home Office and other government departments which have resulted in many changes to both the structure and processes of the criminal justice system. A new online publication produced by the Governance team, and written by Bruce Houlder QC, a leading criminal barrister, provides an overview of the criminal justice system of England and Wales, its strengths and its shortcomings, and offers a personal critique of some of the major recent reforms. The publication is suitable for legal professionals and law students, and also for a general audience with an interest in criminal justice.
Law and Governance: “Reforming Criminal Justice. Experience from the United Kingdom”, published by the British Embassy, China and the British Council, Beijing 2003.
Bruce Houlder QC has written a number of articles in legal magazines, including the Criminal Law Review, New Law Journal, “Medicine, Science and the Law” and “Counsel” Magazine. He has twice been commissioned to write articles for “The Times” and the “Independent” newspapers on legal topics.