Making costs an open subject

As one of the authors of the Bar Council’s report on the comparison of costs of solicitors and barristers, I feel I must respond to your recent editorial on the subject (13 December 1999).

The fact is that barristers are now in a fully competitive market for legal services, and as such must compete on cost and quality grounds.

Our report, which you do not appear to have seen, is founded on authoritative sources. The Law Society’s own research and work done for the Bar Council by BDO Stoy Hayward are but two. To suggest the report was concocted is an insult to those organisations.

It is incumbent on the profession to provide prospective users of legal services with as much information on cost as exists. That is what we have done. I fail to see how such transparency can do anything other than promote confidence in a profession, which for too long has stood accused of secrecy over its costs.

The Government is determined to remove the shroud of secrecy in the interests of competition and we support that. It is one of the central planks of our drive towards “a renewed and modernised bar that develops a relevant and high-quality service focused on customers and cost-effectiveness, and develops a new and productive relationship with the law firms”. On that point, we agree with your editorial.

Richard Anelay QC, Economic Case for the Bar Working Party