The bar's new chair has urged the government not to reshape legal services regulation.
In her inaugural speech last night, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC (pictured) insisted the bar’s current regulator is ‘well able to regulate the profession in the public interest’. She was speaking following chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that the government will consult on separating legal regulators from representative bodies.
Doerries said she looked forward to studying the proposals, but added: 'I cannot resist a personal comment at this stage. The current framework of regulation has only been in place since 2007 and I query whether it is the right time to consider reform.’
She stressed that, while the Bar Standards Board has ‘a good understanding’ of how the profession operates, it already acts independently of the Bar Council. ‘The current arrangement allows regulation to be carried out in a relatively cost-efficient manner and is no less independent in its decision-making,’ she added.
Doerries also announced the creation of a Bar Council Pro Bono Board to gather information about the bar’s pro bono activity, ‘but to also review it and look to consider solutions where necessary’.
During her tenure Doerries will also seek to increase take-up of the voluntary £100-a-year ‘representation fee’ paid by individual members to help fund the Bar Council’s representation work. Currently 9,413 barristers pay the fee, the council said. That figure had been falling but has stabilised since direct debit arrangements were introduced this year.
As part of her engagement drive Doerries is today writing to all heads of chambers inviting them to nominate a member of chambers to act as the liaison with the Bar Council.