Bar Council voices fears over effect of deferring call to Bar

BAR Council plans to defer call to the Bar for non-qualified barristers are still generating fears over potential racial discrimination, despite the council's belief that its revamped equality code will deal with such concerns.

The Bar intends to defer call for pupils and trainees of less than six months.

At the council's meeting last weekend, members debated deferment among a host of other pressing issues.

A Bar spokesman said: “Debate remains live. Arguments have been put, but it still looks like it will go through.” A final decision will be made at the 14 October Bar Council meeting.

But Bruce Cole, Bar race relations committee chair, said after the meeting: “We have reservations that it might well have implications for people from ethnic minorities.”

Cole said the equality code, a “fantastic step forward for the Bar”, would go some way to ameliorating concerns but some would still not be met.

The concerns related to ethnic minority barristers getting their first tenancies, he said.

Meanwhile, three candidates were nominated for the vice-chairmanship elections: QCs Robert Owen, Rodney Klevan and Hilary Heilbron.

Anne Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, is not standing despite having been hotly tipped.

The deadline for the postal ballot is 13 October, with a result announced the next day.

Also discussed at the meeting were proposals for validating other universities to run the Bar School course. Talks led by Bar chair Peter Goldsmith QC are under way for the school of law to be “affiliated” to a university.

The Bar has not confirmed the names of the half dozen institutions in talks because of the “commercial nature” of the negotiations.