JULY 1999

(Updated 01/08/1999)


REVIEW OF BAR COUNCIL REPRESENTATION

 

The Association has been invited by the Bar Council to take part in this important review of Bar Council representation. Meetings are scheduled for 13th October, 17th November and 6th December 1999. The Chairman will represent the Association and the Association has also been invited to nominate an additional representative under the 5 extra employed/non-practising barristers co-options agreed at the Bar Council meeting on 17th July 1999. Any member interested in being considered for the same should contact the Chairman as soon as possible.

Lord Alexander of Weedon QC has agreed to chair a Working Group to recommend the size and composition of the Bar Council from I January 2001. He is keen to obtain initial thoughts from a wide selection of sources and has asked me to write on his behalf seeking your views. The Membership of the Working Group and Terms of Reference are at Annex 1. The group may also take views orally in due course.

The foundations of the present Bar Council were laid by the recommendations of the Rawlinson Committee Report in 1986. These provided for 93 members, plus the option of co-opting a further 4 members. As the breakdown at Annex 2 shows, the Committee s general approach was to devise 'constituencies' which would: allow every group within the Bar to be represented; ensure that leaders of the profession and members engaged in successful practices participate; encourage recognition of service on the Bar Council as an essential part of a successful career at the Bar; provide a majority of directly elected members. Those aims seem to remain valid, as does the establishment of an Executive Committee (General Management Committee) to formulate policy and to supervise the work of the various Bar Council committees.

Further reviews of particular aspects of Bar Council representation have increased Council membership to 115 plus the scope for co-opting a further 4. This has resulted mainly from increased Specialist Bar Association representation, together with an increase in the number of directly elected members of the Bar in independent practice. Current Bar Council representation is shown at Annex 3.

As at I July 1999, Bar Council records showed a breakdown of the Bar as follows:

Independent Practitioners

9,636

Probationary Tenants/Limited Tenancy

39

Squatters

133

Door Tenants (practising)

145

Law Centres

17

Law Reporters

26

Academics

86

Crown Prosecution Service

579

Government Legal Services

413

Inner London Magistrates'

59

Magistrates Courts Committee

318

Employed

1,159

Non-Practising

3,382

Overseas

2,742

Retired

673

Total

19,407

Pupils

821

 

The Access to Justice Bill will extend higher court rights of audience to a much wider range of suitably qualified lawyers, notably employed barristers. In parallel, the Bar Council will be empowered to introduce practising certificates for which an annual subscription will be compulsory. Thus all barristers offering a legal service to the public or to their employers will in future have to pay a subscription appropriate to the service offered and to their seniority. This will include a significant number of barristers currently classified as 'non-practising' and those working in solicitors' offices if they wish to be 'practising barristers'. Consequently, the Bar is likely to be affected by some redefinition of the groups within the Bar. The level of subscription for employed barristers exercising higher court rights of audience will rise significantly compared to the present, and it has been made plain by the LCD that the authority to collect compulsory subscriptions must be accompanied by fair treatment for the Employed Bar.

The overall effect will be to create a larger 'practising Bar' than at present, containing a number of categories of practice. The term 'non-practising' is likely to become more accurate than hitherto and will continue to attract a voluntary subscription. We would welcome your views as to how this should be reflected in Bar Council representation, the principles which should be applied, and in particular on the following:

(a) What is the optimum size of the Bar Council to promote effective and efficient governance?

(b) What should be the proportion of directly elected representatives compared to representatives of the Circuits, Bar Associations and Inns?

(c) In addition to Specialist Bar Associations, should Bar special interest groups be represented and, if so, what criteria should apply?

(d) How should employed Bar representation be determined?

(e) Should non-practising barristers be represented and, if so, how?

(f) Consequent to a, b, c, d and e above, where should the current Bar Council representation be changed and by how much?

(g) For direct elections:

  1. Should there be a single election category of 'practising barrister' covering all those offering a legal service?
  2. If there should be separate categories reflecting the differing nature of barristers' practices, what should these be, how should their Council seats be allocated, and in particular how should the employed Bar be represented?
  3. Should there continue to be elections within certain bands of seniority and, if so, what should these be?

 


The Working Group needs to report by the end of this year to ensure that any appropriate changes are made during the first half of 2000.

Views are, therefore, sought by 22nd October 1999 at the latest.

 


ANNEX 1 : WORKING PARTY - TERMS OF REFERENCE

Membership of the working group, emulating in number that of the Rawlinson Committee which in 1986 laid the foundations of the current Bar Council, is proposed as follows:

Lord Alexander of Weedon QC , The Vice-Chairman of the Bar , The Treasurer and

Representatives from: BACFI , CPS , GLS , Local Government , An Inn , A Circuit , Young Barristers , Equal Opportunities , Non-practising barristers

Terms of Reference are as follows:

In view of the implications of the Access to Justice Bill with particular regard to the employed and non-practising Bar and having regard to the increase in the numbers and the changes in the conditions and circumstances of practice at the Bar,

  1. to consider the extent of any changes needed to the composition of the membership of the Bar Council, so as to ensure that the governing body of the profession can efficiently and fully carry out its functions, representing the interests of all subscribers
  2. to consider matters reasonably ancillary to the foregoing
  3. to make recommendations.

 

ANNEX 2 BAR COUNCIL REPRESENTATION RECOMMENDED

BY THE RAWLINSON COMMITTEE - APRIL 1986

 

OFFICERS

Chairman

Vice-Chairman

Treasurer

EX-OFFICIO

Attorney General

Solicitor General

Circuit Leaders 6

Chairmen or nominees of Bar Associations 5 - see note

CONSTI TUENCY REPRESENTATIVES

Circuits (2 from each) 12

Bar Associations ( I from each) 5

INN REPRESENTATIVES

Three representatives of each Inn 12

ELECTED REPRESENTATI VES

Queen's Counsel 9

Juniors over 7 years Call 18

Juniors under 7 years Call 12

Employed barristers 12

TOTAL 93

Co-options 4

 

Note: Chairmen of:

Criminal Bar Association

Family Law Bar Association

Chancery Bar Association

London Common Law Bar Associations

Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry

  

ANNEX 3 - BAR COUNCIL REPRESENTATION AS AT 1 JULY 1999

OFFICERS

Chairman (ex-officio)

Vice-Chairman

Treasurer

EX-OFFICIO

Attorney General

Solicitor General

Director of Public Prosecutions

Circuit Leaders 6

Chairmen of Specialist Bar Associations 5 see note 1

CONSTITUENCY REPRESENTATIVES

Circuits (QC and Junior each) 12

Bar Associations 14 see note 2

INN REPRESENTA TI VES

Three representatives of each Inn 12

DIRECTL Y ELECTED REPRESENTATI VES

Queen's Counsel 9

Juniors over 7 years Call 24

Juniors under 7 years Call 15

Employed & Non-Practising barristers 12

TOTAL 115

Co-options by the Bar Council 4

 

Note 1 : Chairmen of:

Family Law Bar Association

London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association

Chancery Bar Association

Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry

Criminal Bar Association

Note 2 : Representatives of:

Criminal Bar Association

Family Law Bar Association

Chancery Bar Association

London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association

Bar European Group

Planning and Environment Bar Association

Revenue Bar Association

Intellectual Property Bar Association

Technology and Construction Bar Association

Administrative Bar Association

Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry

Commercial Bar Association

Personal Injuries Bar Association

Employment Law Bar Association


COMPLAINTS SYSTEM WORKING GROUP

CONSULTATION PAPER - JUNE 1999

Anthony Speaight QC, the Chairman of the above Working Group of the Bar Council, has consulted the Association with regard to the effective operation of the current complaints system. Comments are required by 15th September 1999. Anyone wishing to see a copy of the Consultation paper are welcome to contact the Chairman or Anthony Speaight QC direct at the Bar Council offices, 3 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4DB.

The questions asked are as follows:

Question 1: Should the restriction that compensation can be awarded only if "recoverable at law" be dropped?

Question 2: Should the present compensation limit of 2,000 be changed?

Question 3: Should the Bar Council's inadequate professional service jurisdiction be extended to situations where the barrister's activity is covered by advocate's immunity?

Question 4: Should the lay involvement in Tribunals, Panels or the PCC be increased?

Question 5: Should the resolution of more complaints at chambers' level be encouraged?

Question 6: if so,

(a) what should be the features of a chambers' complaints system?

(b) how should use of such systems be promoted?

Question 7: Should there be a time limit within which complaints have to be brought?

Question 8: If so, should there be any, and, if so, what, circumstances in which the time limit does not apply?

Question 9: Please let us have any further comments that you think would be helpful about the complaints system generally.


CHAIRMAN'S COMMITMENTS - 1999

HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998 PUBLICATION

OCTOBER 1999

JULY 1999

JUNE 1999

MAY 1999

MARCH 1999

FEBRUARY 1999