As part of its broad attack on Clementi’s proposals the Bar Council has announced the launch of a “marketing drive” in 2005 showing the advantages of instructing barristers.
It represents a snub to Clementi who – as part of a drive to promote competition in the legal professions – has recommended the establishment of Legal Disciplinary Practices comprised of lawyers, barristers and other professional bodies. This could result in the eventual disappearance of the traditional chambers structure.
Outlining his own plans, the Bar’s chairman, Stephen Irwin QC, said: “2005 will see the launch of a major marketing push by the Bar to alert prospective clients to the benefits of using a barrister.”
“Self-employed barristers are fiercely competitive and we will demonstrate the market benefits this can bring to businesses and the public,” Irwin added.
The Bar Council believes that barristers, far from being anti competitive, are in fact cheaper than solicitors.
Irwin also complained that Clementi’s plans for Legal Disciplinary Practices may also mean that “non lawyers, who are not trained in legal practice or bound by legal ethics, being in control of a legal practice”.
“There will need to be very close scrutiny of safeguards here, to ensure there is no danger to professional standards,” said Irwin.
On Clementi’s new plans for an independent Legal Services Board to superintend the legal professions’ regulators – including the Bar Council – Irwin warned that it must be “clearly independent of government and politics”.
He added that he will “look closely” at the proposal to ensure they “pass the public interest test”. This will include inspecting whether it will lead to a “large bureaucratic office” that will not best serve the public.