The policy for bar mergers

I refer to the 17 July article on page three about the Bar Council's "Barmark" mergers policy. I am writing to clarify our policy:

1. If chambers are proposing to merge, this should be made clear in their business plan and to BSI on the validation visit. Provisions should be made as to how the chambers will accommodate the extra numbers in terms of practice management and what changes they envisage will be necessary.

2. If chambers merge soon after the validation visit and neither BSI nor the Bar Council is convinced that a large increase in size has been suitably prepared for, they may need to have a reassessment.

3. If chambers merge a long time after the validation visit and a few months before the reassessment then while they should inform BSI and the Bar Council, it will probably be taken up in the reassessment visit rather than an assessment at the time of merger.

In all cases a common-sense approach will be applied depending on the timing of the merger and the resultant increase.

Christopher Frazer, chairman of the Barmark Panel