Bar Council democracy campaigners will persist

Senior barristers campaigning for the Bar Council's leaders to be elected democratically are to renew their efforts after losing an AGM motion on the issue by just one vote.

At the AGM on 14 June, Robin de Wilde QC's motion to open up the election of office holders to all barristers and not just the Bar Council, was defeated by 51 votes to 50.

De Wilde said the Bar Council meeting on 26 July would now be asked by a member of the council, yet to be named, to ballot the profession on the issue. Former Bar Council treasurer Martin Bowley QC, another democracy campaigner, said that the proposed ballot would ask barristers whether the treasurer and vice chair's position should be opened up to Bar-wide elections.

To stop a maverick seeking a top job, anyone standing for election would already have to be a council member. The chair would not be contested, giving the successful vice-chair a year to prepare for the job.

Current chair Robert Owen QC said that despite the fact that de Wilde had written to every chambers seeking support, the poor turnout at the AGM suggested that there would be little enthusiasm for change.

This week the campaign received a further boost after the Inner Temple agreed to consider a proposal that all its representatives in the Bar Council be elected by a postal vote.

See analysis, page 2