Overhaul planned to avoid Pach collapse

The Bar Council's pupillage application scheme, which was facing ruin after leading commercial chambers threatened to pull out, has been granted a reprieve.

A row erupted last year between Blackstone Chambers and 4-5 Gray's Inn Square over the Pupillage Application Clearing House scheme (Pach).

The argument was fuelled when several leading commercial sets voiced concerns that the scheme's current format did not allow chambers to compete with law firms for the best student talent.

This was accompanied by the very real threat that if the problem was not rectified chambers would be forced to pull out, leading to the inevitable collapse of Pach.

A review group is now being set up by the Bar Council's Education and Training Committee, to be headed by James Guthrie QC.

A Bar Council spokesman says: “The purpose [of the group] is to troubleshoot and address contentious issues in Pach and to make the system compatible with an increasing number of chambers.”

Issues to be addressed include making non-Pach chambers synchronise their timetables with Pach chambers, and ensuring the timetable eliminates “exploding offers” – offers which prevent students participating in Pach.