Bar to launch cable network

A cable telecommunications system for barristers is due to be launched in July.

The planned network is the result of long negotiations between the Bar Council and several suppliers.

The system, which can be used for ordinary phone calls, will also handle video-conferencing and other online services as they become available, such as court listings and Internet access.

The network has been piloted by 40 chambers in London, Birmingham and Southampton since February and is due to be rolled-out nationwide in the middle of next month.

Cherie Booth QC, vice-chair of the Bar services and IT committee, said the Bar used its collective purchasing power to negotiate the facilities at wholesale rates.

The pilot tested a distance transcription service, desktop video-conferencing software and a court-listing service, but it is not yet clear exactly which services will be on offer at the launch.

A Bar Council spokesman said: “The idea is that it will be a much cheaper alternative to getting the various services in separately.

“For barristers who are not in London, or for speaking to experts who are overseas, it is brilliant. This will be one of the key ways in which barristers are going to get information in the future,” he said.

In a further technological development, the Bar Council's web site recently went live. A Bar Council spokesman said as yet there was not a great deal of information on the site but it would develop further and should soon have a link to the FT Law & Tax bar directory.

The site can be found at http://www.barcouncil.org.uk.