Bar Council rejects levy on wealthy barristers

Proposals for barristers to help cut student debt are abandoned

Plans to slash student debt by imposing an income-related levy on wealthy barristers have been abandoned by the Bar Council.
The idea was prompted by the Mountfield Report, which found that the prospect of enormous debts was discouraging students from joining the Bar. It was suggested that barristers earning more than £100,000 a year should pay 0.25 per cent of their earnings towards student training, while those on £250,000 should contribute 0.5 per cent of their salary.
Many commercial sets are understood to have been against the proposals because they believed they already contributed enough towards the support of their own pupils. But those in favour of the levy argued it was the only way to safeguard the future of less profitable areas of the Bar.
Although a recent meeting of the Bar Council rejected the Mountfield reforms, it also passed an almost unanimous motion to review the problems caused by the high cost of entry to the profession. The new access review is scheduled to report back by July 2003.
Bar chairman David Bean QC said: “While Mountfield’s preferred solution will not now be implemented, the debate it has sparked has pushed the issue of access to the top of the Bar’s agenda. I regard the issue as one of great importance to the future of the Bar.”