A newly-elected Bar Council member is calling for the creation of a bar defence association to help barristers deal with complaints against them.
Marc Beaumont, head of Harrow on the Hill Chambers, has accused the Bar Council of failing to support barristers in their times of greatest need.
As a result, he said, barristers who face a complaint for misconduct are left feeling distressed and isolated.
Beaumont is campaigning for the Bar Council to fund an association, with a senior silk as chair and a panel of 50 juniors and silks to run a helpline, offering confidential advice, and support.
Beaumont says that, although the Bar Council spends large amounts of subscription money on paying staff to process complaints, its ability to respond sympathetically to barristers' enquiries and to be independent in any advice it offers, is severely restricted by its regulatory function.
A Bar Council spokesman said that Beaumont's ideas would be looked at and there might be scope for pastoral support. He pointed out that the Bar Council acted as prosecutor in serious cases of misconduct and this might create difficulties, but said the idea was “not being discounted”.
“The privilege of being a profession is to be paid for with self-regulation and that means that to remain independent of external interference, professional bodies must show that they are capable of robust self-regulation,” he said.
A new Bar complaints system is due to be introduced in April.