Quality standard bearer urges Bar Council to police compliance

Linda Tsang

A CHAMBERS which has just been awarded an international quality standard has called on the Bar Council to boost the credibility of its own quality standards scheme by policing compliance to it.

The Chambers of James Hunt QC believes it is the first set to have been awarded the ISO 9002 quality standard.

To obtain the quality mark, which the set can use in its marketing material, the chambers' systems were checked by an accredited organisation, Quality Management Systems.

The chambers wants a similar compliance system to be introduced by the Bar Council to verify that sets which claim they have adopted the Bar Council's practice management standards have actually done so.

Practice manager Peter Bennett points out that there are 150 chambers nationwide claiming that they have adopted the standards in the new Bar Directory.

"It is encouraging that the Bar Council should have elected to promote standards which match current business benchmarks," he said.

"However, if the Bar is serious about improving its quality of service, then standards must have teeth in their application.

"The only sensible route must be to include some form of certification by or on behalf of the Bar Council to confirm claims that Bar Standards are applied."

The set already complies with the Bar Council's new practice management standards and acknowledges it was relatively easy to win the ISO 9002 accreditation once it had complied with the Bar's scheme.

A Bar Council spokesman said its policy to encourage chambers to employ good management standards was "incremental and evolutionary".

He added that the Bar Council would next year be examining some form of verification regime, although it would need to be "light touch rather than heavy-handed".