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News from City, University of London

The City Law School hosts a debate on the future of the Bar

Will proposals from the Bar Standards Board benefit the administration of justice in the 21st Century?
by Sophie

nullA panel of distinguished lawyers will gather at City University London to discuss the Bar Standards Board (BSB) scheme for regulating alternative business structures (ABSs).

During a period of substantial change in the legal profession, the BSB has published what it describes as a "declaration of intent" to become the regulator of choice for advocates. It is a change the Board believes to be a necessity in guarding the identity of the Bar and securing its future. 

The BSB proposals outline their intention to regulate structures, such as partnerships, limited liability partnerships or companies, all of which could now employ lawyers and non-lawyers. Unlike plans from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the BSB say that all external owners must also be managers of the business. They have also proposed changes to the barristers' code of conduct and rules surrounding litigation.

The motion for debate will be that these proposals are unlikely to benefit the administration of justice in the 21st Century. Stephen Hockman QC, former Bar Chairman and His Hon. Judge Owen Davies Q.C will speak in support of the motion, while Patricia Robertson QC and Dr Vanessa Davies of the Bar Standards Board will argue against it.

Among the issues raised will be whether the proposed changes will impact on the traditional chambers ethos and structure as well as whether pressure will grow for monolithic regulation of the legal profession as a whole.

Peter Hungerford Welch, Assistant Dean of The City Law School, City University London said:

"This is a very timely debate. The Bar faces seismic changes to the way in which it does business. The traditional image of the Barrister practising alongside other Barristers in a set of Chambers is under threat. Moreover, it is going to be impossible to maintain a situation where the SRA regulates only Solicitors and the BSB regulates only Barristers. This debate asks a key question about how the administration of justice, the cornerstone of a civilised society, is best protected."

The event will be supported by the South Eastern Circuit of the Bar and will be chaired by His Hon. Judge Donald Cryan, Chair of the Advisory Board of The City Law School.

The debate takes place at 6pm on Monday 25th June in Atkin Building, 4 Gray's Inn Place, London WC1R 5DX. 

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