Bar drops graduate proposal after rift

The Bar Council is set to withdraw a controversial proposal that would have prevented law graduates describing themselves as barristers on completion of their studies.

Critics feared that ethnic minorities and women, already poorly represented in the profession, would be further disadvantaged by the proposal, under which graduates could not be called to the Bar until they had completed six months of training or pupillage.

Groups such as the Association of Women Barristers argued that, because minorities find it difficult to get training places, they would suffer disproportionally if the call to the Bar was deferred.

It is understood the Bar Council will back down and put its proposal on hold for two years from October 1997.

The council was due to meet last Saturday morning to approve the new stance prior to the Bar's annual general meeting.

Its decision follows hard on the heels of the advice of Michael Beloff QC, who said the move could be indirectly discriminatory against ethnic minorities, though not women.

Sources close to the council say the two-year postponement will allow initiatives to promote “equality” to take effect.