Newcastle sets in merger rumours

TWO chambers in Newcastle are understood to be contemplating a merger.

But although the Newcastle Bar is awash with rumours that New Court and 67 Westgate Road are in talks the chambers are refusing to comment.

The highly unusual move is believed to be fuelled by both sets' desire to grow stronger in the face of the Government's legal aid reform plans.

New Court said it would not comment on the rumours. Westgate issued a statement saying the chambers had been in talks with a number of people in the past few years 'and we don't comment on them. It was always with the view to provide a better service to our clients'.

The chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Roy Amlot QC, has already warned that the legal aid proposals risk tearing the profession apart. Barristers have complained that the introduction of block contracting could take work away from the Bar by encouraging solicitors' firms to use in-house advocates.

New Court has 34 tenants and Westgate 15. They both provide a broad range of legal specialisms.