Bar Council vows legal aid action

Bar Council chair Geoffrey Vos QC has set out his vision for the next 12 months as the new legal year opens today (1 October).

Vos said the last year has seen much progress on the Bar Council’s key lobbying areas, such as amending the Legal Services Bill, although he warned that “the show isn’t over”.

“Major progress with the bill has been made, with the Government tabling an amendment that will see the Lord Chancellor having to consult with the Lord Chief Justice when appointing the Legal Services Board,” explained Vos. “The show isn’t over, however, as it remains to be seen what their lordships will make of the amendment.”

Vos said the Legal Services Bill is now in good shape, so the key issue will be ongoing legal aid reforms.

“VHCCs [very high-cost cases] in relation to legal aid will be extremely important in 2008. There’s a lot of work to be done on that,” said Vos.

Away from the domestic arena, Vos said the council will continue to market the bar to other countries as a specialist resource in areas such as China.

“We’ve made more progress than expected, but it’s still in the early stages,” said Vos. “India and China are still developing markets where expertise is needed and they provide a great opportunity for the bar, so this will need to be a focus for the coming year.”