A UNIQUE consultation exercise has been launched by the Bar Council in a bid to gauge the profession's views on the need for democratic reform within the profession.

Barristers are being urged to complete a questionnaire on accountability being sent out to them in the April edition of Bar News, the Bar Council's monthly news sheet.

The questionnaire has been drawn up by an accountability working party which was set up by the Bar Council last year following rumblings of grassroots discontent at its AGM in June.

At the time, calls for AGM decisions to be made binding on the Bar Council were headed off by the promise of a working party to examine democracy issues.

The working party is being led by Bar Council treasurer Michael Blair who is urging barristers to take the time to fill in the questionnaire.

He said the key questions to be addressed by the survey were whether AGM motions should be binding and whether power to change the constitution and code of conduct should be vested exclusively with the Bar Council.

Commenting on the likely recommendations of the working party, Blair said: “I'd be surprised if everything stayed as it is.

“I would imagine that the front runner for change would be the constitution of the Bar and the need to get some sort of public approval for it.”