A Shared Purpose: Joanne Wicks QC, Chair of the PBA, shares her thoughts on links with the PLA


Since becoming Chair of the Property Bar Association, I’ve really been struck by the sheer hard work which is put in by so many people to enable the PBA and the PLA to serve their members. Whether it’s organising seminars or socials, guarding the bank accounts, responding to consultations or marking student essays, members of both Associations’ committees and others give up hours of their time for the good of other professionals.

It isn’t all hard graft, though. I’ve loved meeting members of both Associations and feeling I’m more in touch with what’s going on (well, OK, gossiping). I’ve enjoyed meeting young members just starting out on their careers, and students who are beginning to think that a job in property litigation might be for them. It gives me a buzz to think that I can express views on law reform which might help shape legislation for the future.

The other thing that’s striking is how well the relationship between the PBA and PLA works. We are separate organisations with our own spaces, but we come together for the mutual benefit of our members and our clients. It’s not just the parties!

Education is an obvious area where we can, and do, overlap. Not all of the PBA’s seminars and conferences are open to PLA members, but some are and vice versa. The property bar really benefits from having litigators’ perspectives on some of the legal issues we debate, and I hope that PLA members feel the same about us. Last week some PLA members joined us at a PBA workshop on Land Registration and I’ve been speaking recently with Ben Barrison of the PLA Education & Training Committee about a joint event early next year, which looks like being a lot of fun.

It’s particularly important that the junior ends of both associations retain strong links. Many senior professionals will acknowledge the enduring importance of the professional network they built in their early days of practice. There were some great questions at the recent panel discussion about arbitration and expert determination organised by the junior PLA and PBA.

Law Reform is an area where close working between the professions can make a real difference. The PLA has a long-standing Law Reform committee and I know that it has been stepping up to lead the debate on many current issues. You won’t be surprised to hear that the Property Bar is full of strong views as well! The key is harnessing that amazing combined expertise and ensuring that government and legislators understand that the PLA and PBA really do know their stuff.

I look forward to meeting more PLA members as my time as Chair rolls on. This year we won’t be having a joint summer party but PBA members will be able to buy a ticket to invite one – just one! – guest to the PBA party at Apothecaries Hall on 27 June. Time for PLA members to remind their favourite property barrister just how much work they’ve been sending their way…