Bar urged to change its non-practising barrister tag

The Bar Council is being called on to scrap the label “non-practising barrister” and to replace it with the term “barrister without rights of audience”.

The proposal is a key aim of the newly-formed Non-Practising Bar Association. Currently, only barristers who are exercising their rights of audience as independent practitioners are allowed to describe themselves as “barristers”.

Barristers employed by in-house legal departments can call themselves “employed barristers”, but all other non-independent barristers are technically non-practising. They are not covered by the Bar’s indemnity insurance scheme and it is even questionable to what extent they are covered by the Bar’s code of conduct.

The association’s secretary, Dr Peter Gray, said that he believed the term “barristers without rights of audience” would give those barristers who work outside of in-house legal departments and chambers greater status and make their qualification more flexible. He called for the new tier of barristers to pay full Bar subscription fees and take out indemnity insurance.

A Bar Council spokesman said it did not support a name change as it believed “non-practising” reflected the position of the barristers in that category.