Quality statements left out of directory

A controversial section of the official Bar Directory, which allowed chambers to claim they had adopted tough new practice management and equal opportunity codes, has been dropped because there is no way to check up on the truth of the assertions.

The move follows surprise in some quarters of the Bar at the large number of sets which claimed in last year's Bar Directory that they had adopted the new codes, which impose a myriad of management systems on chambers.

In London, for example, around a third of the capital's 250 sets were claiming to have adopted the Bar Practice Management Standards, which were unveiled only a few months before the directory was compiled.

A recent Bar Council circular to chambers announcing the decision to drop the "Chambers Policies" entries in the 1998 directory said the decision had been made "because there are few, if any, systems of audit available".

The move coincides with the launch by the Bar Council's Bar services and IT committee, of an initiative to assess the impact of the Bar Council's Practice Management Standards, which were unveiled in January last year.

Committee secretary John Horne said that an accreditation scheme, under which independent assessors checked chambers' compliance with the standards, would be considered.

But he stressed that it had only just begun a review of the scheme and it would be "premature" to predict its outcome.

Last December, the Chambers of James Hunt QC publicly called for an independently-assessed accreditation scheme. Practice manager Peter Bennett said the directory decision reinforced the need for such a scheme, because it would allow chambers to use compliance to the standards as a credible marketing tool.