Dual-qualified solicitors are suspended from the Bar

The Bar Council has written to all barristers who have become solicitors, telling them that they are suspended from the Bar and can no longer exercise rights of audience as a barrister.

The letter, which was sent earlier this month from Jonathan Hirst QC, chairman of the professional standards committee, is the first communication dual-qualified solicitors have received on the issue. It states that the Bar Council voted in March to change the Bar's code of conduct concerning dual qualification.

The initial proposal to change the rules was revealed by The Lawyer in February.

Requalified barristers must, from now on, refer to themselves as “suspended from practice as a barrister as a result of becoming qualified to practise as a solicitor”.

One barrister affected described the Bar Council's actions as “grotesque” and added: “As to my change of title I can imagine the whole council chortling like schoolboys as they thought that one up.”

Professional standards committee secretary Mark Stobbs said that there had not been any consultation because “we don't have any idea who these people are”. The letter was sent to all non-practising barristers.

The change will affect about 400 barristers who have held dual qualification since Law Society rule changes in 1993.