Bar Council faces access issue again

THE Bar Council could face a demand from barristers for direct access by the public, partnership between the two arms of the profession and higher court advocacy rights for the employed Bar, if resolutions are passed at its annual general meeting next month.

The Bar Council has already rejected wider direct access.

The partnership question is being considered by James Munby QC's policy unit. Employed Bar groups are waiting for a final decision from the Lord Chancellor on rights of audience.

But if the resolutions are voted in, the Bar Council could be forced to reconsider its stance on these issues.

The resolutions are proposed by Neil Addison, one of the Bar Council's employed Bar representatives, and seconded by barrister Howard Gray of Staple Inn Chambers.

Addison is contacting barristers to encourage them to attend and vote.

Barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service and Government Legal Service, threatened by privatisation, are facing major changes and so are now keen to see greater flexibility given to the profession, Addison says.

Gray says the changes are needed to preserve the independent Bar in the face of competition from solicitor advocates, who now enjoy more freedom than barristers.