Crawford: Pach plans are bar to equality

The Race Relations Committee of the Bar is challenging the Bar Council's decision to bring forward pupillage recruitment to the final year of university.

Chair of the committee, Lincoln Crawford QC, fears that changing the system could discriminate against visible minorities.

He believes that recruitment will centre on the “old” established universities and not the “new” universities where most ethnic minorities study.

Despite the Bar Council's resolve to change the Pupillage Application Clearing House (Pach) system, Crawford believes the vast majority prefer to retain the current system.

Crawford is to make firm representations to the chairman of the Bar Council, Dan Brennan QC, asking him to take issue with the proposals.

However, Peter Goldsmith QC, a former chairman of the Bar Council, who proposed the changes, argues that the expense and uncertainty of the current system is the greatest bar to equality.

A second study, by James Guthrie QC, supports Goldsmith's recommendations and the Bar Council is pushing ahead with its plans. This will involve consultation with the course providers before implementation, which is likely to take place in the year 2000.

Goldsmith is adamant that any new system will ensure equality because it will involve a transparent system of recruitment, including a standard application form, and will make information about pupillages available to all students nationwide.