Booth forces Bar Council to back down over suspensions

LEGAL advice from Cherie Booth QC has forced the Bar Council into an embarrassing climbdown over its plans to suspend barristers who have requalified as solicitors.

About 400 dual-qualified barristers were suspended on 1 May and told they must refer to themselves as “suspended from practice as a barrister as a result of becoming qualified to practise as a solicitor”.

But the Bar Council has revoked the suspensions after Booth advised two of the barristers affected by the change that lack of consultation over the decision left it “vulnerable to challenge by judicial review.”

In a letter sent out to around 4,000 non-practicing barristers Jonathan Hirst QC, chairman of the Bar Council's professional standards committee, says that in the light of concerns expressed by dual-qualified barristers, implementation of the rule has been suspended “to offer those who may be affected a chance to express their views formally”.

The new consultation period closes on 17 July and the Bar Council will “revisit” this question at its meeting in either September or November.

Mark Stobbs, secretary of professional standards and legal services, said: “I wouldn't say we were terrified of judicial review. The points made to us seemed to be fair and we do like to listen.”

Teige O'Donovan, a dual-qualified solicitor at Farrer & Co, said: “It is hoped that all those affected will contribute to the debate by responding to the consultation exercise.”