Row erupts over freebies from the bar

Spa weekends, trips to New York and all-expenses-paid jaunts to the Rugby World Cup are under threat as barristers’ gifts to solicitors come under scrutiny.

A row has broken out at the bar, with some claiming that these freebies are too lavish and cause firms to push work to less-qualified chambers.

The quarrel kicked off after the Bar Standards Boards (BSB) issued a consultation into the issue last Wednesday (13 December).

Wilberforce Chambers senior clerk Declan Redmond said: “Barristers are in direct competition with solicitors. Chambers should be able to do what it wants as long as it doesn’t put the bar in disrepute.”

A senior clerk at another leading commercial litigation set said: “Smaller chambers would love to to spend lots on entertaining, but they can’t, so they’re at a disadvantage.”

John Hendy QC, head of Old Square Chambers, said: “Solicitors should be selecting who they instruct on the basis of merit, not who gave them the best present or night out.”