EMPLOYED commercial barristers are gearing up for a campaign against the Bar Council's plans to defer call to the Bar for six months after training.
The Bar Association for Commerce and Industry (Bacfi) has highlighted the threat to the employed Bar posed by the deferral plan which was approved in principle by the Bar Council last year.
The group has just elected a new chair, Peter Styles, who has singled out the plan as a key campaign issue for the year.
A Bar Council spokesman promised the group's concerns would be considered very carefully "to ensure the employed Bar is not in any way compromised by what we do".
Styles, vice-chair of the European arm of the natural gas company Enron, took over from Austin Allison as Bacfi chair earlier this month.
He said the deferral move threatened to disenfranchise the employed Bar whose new members would face the obstacle of finding a pupillage before they could join companies as barristers.
"I see the whole area of education and training as extremely important and Bacfi will be using its resources to influence the Bar Council on this issue," he said.
Styles, who also aims to expand the association membership across the commercial sector, said a possible compromise could be the introduction of an in-house training scheme which would allow trainees to qualify as barristers.
Bacfi is not the only body to have raised doubts about the scheme. The Middle Temple is also known to have grave reservations about it.