The suggestion reported in The Times on 12 June that solicitors who have obtained higher courts advocacy certificates should be admitted as members of the Inns of Court should be strongly opposed.
Any solicitor wishing to become a member of any of the four Inns has only to be called to the bar and surrender the then security of a solicitor's practice. I know of no member of this association supporting the proposal.
To suggest, as does The Times' report of the proposals, that the Inns, dating from the 13th century, should 'modernise in line with the Government's legal reforms' is to propose that barristers, for no good reason, become the Government's lickspittles.
I echo Rowland Williams, author of Saving Litigation and formerly a member of a fused profession in Canada, who said that upon becoming a solicitor in this country he was struck by the advantages which the separation of barristers and solicitors provided and that in consequence litigation proceeded faster and to great benefit of the client. If we bow down to Lord Irvine now we shall all, lawyers and laymen alike, live to regret it.
Stanley Best, chairman, British Legal Association.