The independent referral bar: retrospective and prospective
Edinburgh, 14 to 16 April 2016
Site Copyright © David Turner 2016      
What is ICAB?
The International Council for Advocates and Barristers (ICAB) is the forum for members of independent referral bars around the world. ICAB was established in 2002 at the inaugural World Bar Conference in Edinburgh.

Who are the referral bars?
A referral bar is a group of barristers or advocates practising in a particular jurisdiction. They take pride in their independence and their expertise is sought because they specialise in the oral presentation of cases and in related advice and drafting work. They generally acknowledge themselves to be bound by the 'cab-rank' rule under which they are precluded from refusing instructions on the ground that the nature of the case, or the conduct, opinions or beliefs of a prospective client, are publicly controversial or unacceptable to the advocate.

Members of ICAB
• The Australian Bar Association
• The Bar Council of Ireland
• The Faculty of Advocates
• The General Council of the Bar of England and Wales
• The General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
• The General Council of the Bar of South Africa
• The Hong Kong Bar Association
• The New Zealand Bar Association
• The Society of Advocates of Namibia
• The Law Society of Zimbabwe

Current ICAB Office Bearers
Miriam Dean CNZM QC, co-chair (New Zealand)
James Wolffe QC, co-chair (Scotland)
Paul McGarry SC, secretary (Ireland)
The Edinburgh Declaration
At the inaugural World Bar Conference in Edinburgh, ICAB resolved:

1. That the independence of courts is essential to the functioning of democracies, and that the independence of the legal profession in turn is essential to the independence of the courts.

2. That the referral Bars, the organised bodies of the profession of barristers and advocates, have a particularly important role to play in defending the independence of the courts and in affording access by the public to them.

3. That the participating Bars commit themselves to supporting, in all ways open to them, legal practitioners in all countries where their capacity to practise and organise themselves freely and independently is under threat.

4. That it expresses its complete support for:

· The Bar Council and Law Society of Zimbabwe in their assertion of independence and in their commitment to the restoration of the rule of law in Zimbabwe;

· To the Hong Kong Bar in its principled espousal of the rule of law.

5. That the participating Bars shall take practical steps to coordinate and advance the work of Bars around the world for the protection of human rights and for the enhancement of pro bono legal services for the poor and the vulnerable.

The participating Bars shall also continue to work to defend the independence of the profession of barrister and advocate.