Debate first, ballot later

Neil Addison argues the Bar Council should have gone straight to a ballot of the membership on the complaints issue. That would not have been the right thing to do because issues need airing in an open meeting before people should be asked to vote. In addition a section of the Bar wanted an extraordinary meeting, which under the constitution they were entitled to.

It is customarily only after a vote has been put to a general meeting that a ballot is called. The meeting was fixed at 6.30pm to allow as many people from outside London to attend if they wished to do so and some did. Others will have been unable to attend. That would have been true whatever date or time had been chosen.

The issue does now go to a ballot of the Bar. Neil Addison is right to warn, as I have done, that if the Bar declines to accept these fairly modest proposals which recognise there should be some redress for inadequate professional service, while preserving advocates' immunity (a very important exception particularly as far as criminal work is concerned), worse is likely to be imposed upon the profession from outside. I hope members of the Bar will heed that warning and urge them to vote when the ballot papers arrive.

Peter Goldsmith QC

3 Bedford Row

London WC1R 4DB.