Bar sees standard bearers in two years

The Bar Council could introduce a kite mark for chambers with good practice management systems within the next two years.

Dan Brennan QC, vice-chairman of the Bar Council, told the Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC) conference the quality standard might be introduced in response to the Government's proposals for legal aid block contracting.

He said the Bar wanted to enter into block contracts directly with the Legal Aid Board (LAB) rather than relying on solicitors working under contract to farm out work.He said such a move would require chambers to meet certain quality standards, similar to the scheme of franchising for solicitors' firms which is run by the LAB.

Once that principle was established, he said, the private sector would also look for assurances of quality.

The Bar Council already produces guidelines on good practice but at present has no system for evaluating chambers, although chambers can apply for accreditation from the International Standards Organisation.

Stephen Graham, chairman of the IBC, welcomed the proposal. “We are happy and relaxed about it,” he said. “Most chambers currently have high standards of practice management.”

Brennan also revealed the Bar Council would be seriously examining the issue of direct access in the autumn. He said there could be a case for allowing, for example, insurance companies and PLCs to approach barristers directly.