Pricey inns lose their lustre for barristers

Rumbles of discontent over high rents and poor facilities at Inner Temple

American fans of Dan Brown’s Christian pulp thriller The Da Vinci Code come over all wistful at the mention of London’s Inner Temple. They see it as the exotic home of Temple Church, where the Harvard professor protagonist rummaged for clues to a long-forgotten and tedious riddle. 

But while tourists might be flocking to the Inns of Court, barristers – the punters that pay rent to work there – are rumoured to be keen to bail out, blaming high costs and poor facilities. 

Latest to make the move is high-profile criminal law specialist set 6 King’s Bench Walk, which last week decamped to digs near Cannon Street station in the City. 

“Rents at the inns are not set at a level that we expect for the standard of accommodation,” 6KBW College Hill’s Mark Dennis QC, a member of the chambers’ management committee, tells The Lawyer. “They are too expensive for what they offer.” 

Dennis is convinced his view is shared across the bar and he anticipates that other sets – especially those on tight budgets – will move away from the inns. 

“If the inns don’t adjust their position and address the problems being faced by sets doing publicly funded work there will be real difficulties,” Dennis adds.

But the inns are fighting back. Patrick Maddams, Inner Temple sub-treasurer and chief executive, maintains that rents are set at market rates on professional advice. 

“We’re not worried we are pricing ourselves out of the market,” he says, adding that “all our rents include service charges”.