St John's Chambers in Bristol has drawn up new financial arrangements for its criminal and civil divisions.
To help cut costs, the criminal barristers have been moved to another building and will hot-desk to save on office space.
In return, the 52-tenant set has agreed that those on the criminal side will pay less towards the running costs of the chambers.
Many chambers accommodate their criminal and civil barristers differently, as the former spend a large amount of time in court and so do not need a permanent office. However, St John's is believed to be the first to charge the two sections at different rates.
Kate Blackburn, former projects manager at Freshfields, has also just been appointed as the set's new chief executive, while personal injury specialist Christopher Sharp QC has replaced criminal silk Roderick Denyer QC.
Sharp explains: “Criminal barristers spend more time in court and civil practitioners spend more time at their desks so it is common sense. There are slightly different financial regimes with central and building costs and the criminal barristers will pay somewhat less.”
Roderick Denyer QC and Nigel Hamilton QC are the only criminal barristers who will remain at the main building – 12 others will move to the new premises.
He denies that this is the first tentative step towards demerging. He says: “We are still one set of chambers except we will be housed in different buildings. The aim was to reduce costs because of what has happened to public funding.”
The chambers has also taken on an additional chancery commercial clerk.