A Leading silk is calling for radical changes to barristers' practice rules so they can create partnerships.
Andrew Arden QC, head of Arden Chambers, is demanding the rules change because the market and the way barristers operate has changed.
Arden points to increasing competition with solicitors and the consequent corporate branding of chambers as well as the potential benefits to productivity. “Chambers must cope with significantly increased revenue expenditure, and with substantial recurring capital outlay,” he says.
Christopher Symons QC, joint head of 3 Verulam Buildings, agrees that the rule preventing barristers entering into partnership should go.
“I think the fact that we're not allowed to form partnerships is an anomaly which will have to go,” he says. But, he says it may not present any immediate benefit to chambers. “The advantage of partnership is difficult to see unless one goes down the route of multidisciplinary partnerships [MDPs] because we find ourselves against each other very frequently,” he says, adding that MDPs are still a long way off.
Chairman of the Bar Council Dan Brennan QC agrees the problem of tenants from the same set acting on opposing sides could damage the business of many barristers.
Paul Shrubsall, senior clerk at One Essex Court suggests chambers could follow a US system. He says: “US firms are partnerships but they don't share profits. They operate a complete meritocracy, which is what a set of chambers is.”
See opinion p30-33