CABx to get direct access under Bar Council plan

A SCHEME to allow Citizens' Advice Bureaux direct access to barristers was set to be given the go-ahead at a Bar Council meeting over the weekend.

The plan is designed to boost access to justice at a time when the profession is coming under increasing pressure to provide better services for less money.

A report, due to be considered after The Lawyer went to press at a Bar Council meeting last Saturday, recommended allowing direct access to designated CABx for contentious and non-contentious business.

CABx would be able to instruct the Bar for advocacy work in the lower courts, tribunals and for specialist legal advice, but not for complex cases and those involving High Court litigation.

According to the report, the scheme will make justice more widely available at less cost without undermining the profession's referral nature.

“The time is right for the Bar's professional rules to be altered,” a council spokesman said. “The Labour Party and the Government are both planning major changes in the way publicly-funded legal services are provided. This measure is designed to anticipate some of those potential changes.”

He said the proposal was also in the spirit of the ideas being proposed by Lord Woolf.

It is expected a working party will be established to liaise with CABx and Lord Chancellor's Department to develop a scheme, which would then be piloted.