Bar Council unearths ancient rule in dispute over disbarring

THE BAR Council has turned to an Inns of Court rule dating back to 1635 in its latest bid to force barristers to disbar if they qualify as solicitors.

A new counsel's opinion on the thorny issue is being sought after the treasurer of the Inner Temple, Edward Nugee QC, unearthed the 17th-century rule that prohibited barristers from qualifying as solicitors.

A report, which was due to be submitted to the Bar Council on Saturday, after The Lawyer went to press, stated that it was agreed “it would be appropriate, with the agreement of the Inn, to seek a further opinion from counsel on whether these powers could be relied upon”.

This summer the Bar Council had reluctantly admitted defeat on the issue after receiving legal advice that it could not force barristers to disbar.

A paper described the situation as “not ideal” and argued it was in the public interest to maintain “separate branches of the profession”.

Sally Hughes, a barrister who refused to disbar when she became a solicitor, greeted the news with dismay.

“I am very surprised that the they don't have the grace to bow to the inevitable. There should be increased freedom of movement between the two branches of the profession.”