Bar strikes back in direct access row

The Bar Council defended itself from allegations that it has not done enough to promote direct access to the bar.

Geoffrey Vos QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said Hardwicke Building’s research, which was revealed by The Lawyer last week (19 February), yielded interesting results but from “a fairly small sample of 65 legal services purchasers”. Standard market research practice states that a survey of more than 50 respondents can be deemed ‘significant’.

The survey revealed that 92 per cent of respondents felt the bar had not provided enough information on direct access. Two in five in-house lawyers did not even realise information had been provided.

Vos conceded that the bar could have done more in terms of providing greater information about direct access, but said this does not detract from the finding that 95 per cent of respondents welcome direct access.

He said: “It’s clear that more information on accessing legal services in this way would be welcome and we will strive to achieve this. Most importantly, those surveyed responded positively to the bar’s specialist expertise in areas of law, its value for money and its role in increasing the likelihood of early dispute resolution.

“This augurs well for the future prospects of direct access, and we fully support the bar’s delivery of high-quality services in this way.”

Direct access allows barristers to receive instructions directly from the public in an effort to allow better access to justice.