An open meeting of around 60 members of the Bar Association for Commerce Finance and Industry (Bacfi) has backed calls for partnerships between barristers.
The meeting, held earlier this month, was called by Bacfi's executive committee as a means of testing the level of support within the organisation's rank and file for its reform agenda.
There were also calls for an end to the rule prohibiting employed barristers from conducting litigation and the requirement that barristers who take up jobs in solicitors firms must describe themselves as “non practising”.
The meeting also resolved that Bacfi should push for higher court rights of audience for the employed Bar.
Speaking in favour of partnerships, Bacfi committee member Michael Bilewcz said that one traditional argument against them – that independent tenants from the same set could act for both sides in a dispute – had been superseded by the attitude of commercial clients who regarded the practice with great suspicion.
He said some intellectual property companies were refusing to instruct sets whose tenants had acted for their competitors.
“The current system merely ensures greater inconsistency in the quality of practioners because there are no effective checks on quality,” he added.