Bar up in arms after Stoy Hayward survey blunder

A massive foul up by business advisers BDO Stoy Hayward has meant almost one-third of chambers have received confidential financial and internal information about each other.
Stoy Hayward sent out copies of chambers' submissions for last year's annual review of the bar. However, due to a computer error the forms included highly-confidential submissions made by several chambers.
A total of 135 sets received mixed data relating to their own previous year's submissions, as well as two or more other sets. A total of 378 forms were issued.
Chambers contacted by The Lawyer said they could recognise which sets the figures pertained to, although Stoy Hayward denied this.
The error puts the Bar Council in a difficult position. This year, Bar Council chairman David Bean QC sent a strongly worded letter to all chambers encouraging them to fill in the forms. Some chambers said they were considering whether to continue cooperating with Stoy Hayward.
The forms contain a comprehensive breakdown of financial figures, including total receipts, total fees billed, average chargeout rates per hour, and a breakdown of average receipts for various years of call. It also contains details of how total expenses are accounted for, details of aged debt and remuneration for senior clerks, practice managers or chief executives if applicable.
Other details relate to chambers marketing and the volume of pro bono work carried out by the set. Another related to whether plans to introduce a £10,000 award per pupil will result in sets reducing the number of pupils they take on.
A letter, which is being sent to all chambers from Jeffrey Nedas, chairman of Stoy Hayward's professional practices group, states: “It has come to our attention that, unfortunately, there was an error in last year's database format and, as a result, the copy of your chambers 2001 response contained incorrect data.”
One senior clerk said: “Why do we have to fill in the forms in the first place? We started doing it in 2000 because we had the Bar Council chairman saying it is the right thing to do. Chambers feel they are obliged to do it on a confidential basis but it's a bit much when this sort of thing happens.”
Bar Council chief executive Niall Morison said: “It's unfortunate given the nature and value of the survey.”