Bar acts on complaints system for shoddy work

BARRISTERS have been warned that from now on they may face action under the Bar Council's planned complaints system if they provide their lay clients with a shoddy service.

The rules and procedures of the Bar's controversial complaints system were approved at a Bar Council meeting earlier this month.

The system, under which barristers face a fine of up to £2,000 for providing an inadequate professional service, is not expected to be launched until April next year.

But Bar Council officials are warning that barristers who provide a poor service to their clients on or after 13 July this year may be rebuked under the new system, as long as the complaint is lodged after its launch.

The timing of the launch has been affected by yet another Bar Council clash with Aclec, the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct.

The Bar and Aclec disagree over the extent of Aclec's powers to regulate Bar activities. In July's edition of Counsel, Bar Council chair, David Penry-Davey QC, said the Bar disagreed with Aclec's claim that it needed to approve the new system, but had applied to the committee for approval “to avoid delay”.