Summers slams Bar Council disbar rules

A former barrister is threatening judicial review of a proposed Bar Council rule that will effectively disbar barristers who re-qualify as solicitors.

Under the proposals, due to go before the Bar Council in March, barristers who become solicitors will be suspended for as long as they hold a solicitor's practising certificate.

But former barrister Gary Summers of Magrath & Co is threatening to judicially review the plan. He said: “The public will think that the profession has better things to do rather than gazing at its own navel.”

Currently barristers are supposed to voluntarily disbar when they re-qualify but in 1995 Sally Hughes refused, forcing the Bar Council to concede that barristers practising as solicitors could call themselves “non-practising” barristers.

Hughes dismissed the proposals as “disbarring by another name”.

Mark Stobbs, secretary of professional standards and legal services at the Bar Council, said the rules were designed to ensure a smooth transfer between the two branches of the profession while maintaining the distinction between barristers and solicitors.