The Bar Council is to launch a root and branch review of its departments' and committees' spending in the wake of extra cost burdens

Additional resources are expected to be needed to fund the predicted growth in complaints arising out of the introduction of direct access from the public to barristers.

The council also has to ensure it is complying with statutory requirements for some 80 per cent of its budget to be spent on its regulatory responsibilities. The remaining 20 per cent goes on representing barristers' interests.

New duties, such as continuing professional development and practising certificates, have also added extra spending burdens.

The last review in 1998, by Anthony Speaight QC and Julian Malins QC, followed in the wake of extra financial burdens on the Bar arising out of a growth in the complaints system and its education and training provisions.

Matthias Kelly QC, the new Bar Chairman, said: “In difficult economic circumstances, we need to be 100 per cent confident that our professional body is working efficiently and effectively to regulate and represent the profession. This inquiry will tell us if we are delivering value for money.”