New faces set to take up position at Bar Council

Linda Tsang

THREE QCs, Allan Levy, David Steer and Bruce Houlder, have been elected to the Bar Council and will take office in January.

David Steer QC is joint head of chambers at The Corn Exchange, Liverpool, and Bruce Houlder QC, of 6 King's Bench Walk, acted for the CPS in the Blakelock case.

Levy is head of chambers at 17 Bedford Row and well-known as a specialist in child and medical law. He chaired the inquiry into the illegal 'pindown' regime in Staffordshire children's homes, and also represented the Department of Health at the Cleveland child abuse inquiry.

As a member of the Bar Council, he says he would like to ensure that the Bar remains an independent profession.

Levy says: "The Bar is going through a difficult time. It is important that young barristers get an opportunity to practise – it is increasingly difficult for them to find chambers, and they are also in competition now with solicitor advocates.

"The whole question of legal aid fees is also important and the payment of fees generally, particularly to the younger members of the Bar. These matters should be looked into carefully to ensure that the system works properly."

Criminal barrister Nadine Radford, who has been on the council since 1986, has been re-elected to represent junior counsel over seven years' call. Radford is also vice-chair of the Bar Services Commission in charge of information technology. Her fellow representatives are Adrian P Lyon, Peter Lodder, David Bean, Simon Browne-Wilkinson, Nicholas Francis and Gordon Nurse.

Radford says the Bar Council is more open and democratic than in the past.

"There is a genuine concern for the young Bar, and the Bar as a whole. The council is taking a major lead in the legal profession as a whole to make the courts more efficient and to speed up the process so that there is a more cost-effective use of public funds," she says.

Alison Levitt, criminal barrister and forthcoming chair of the Young Bar, has been re-elected.

She continues to represent junior counsel under seven years' call with fellow electees Graham Knowles, Amanda Tipples, Jonathan Small and Elizabeth Clarke. Levitt was called to the Bar in 1988.

She says she has witnessed a liberalisation of attitudes at the Bar during her membership of its council, also since 1988.

"There has been a real move for the Bar to become more forward-looking and to embrace what was previously unthinkable, such as direct access to witnesses," she says.

"One encouraging change over the last 10 years has been the increased awareness of the importance of the junior Bar.

"My concern is the matter of remuneration for the junior Bar. I am anxious that we do not have the situation where only the children of the rich can come to the Bar, which would not be in the public interest."

Representing the interests of barristers in employment and non-practising barristers are Chris Parnell, Alex Brett-Holt, Mirza Ahmad and Linda Saunt.

Parnell, editor of on-line legal database Lawtel, says: "I would like to establish a greater understanding of what the employed Bar has to offer, both to those in independent practice, and more generally."