Barristers have been urged to donate money to an emergency hardship fund, as the bar's representative body predicts that demand for financial help will exceed supply.
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, asked all members to support the Barristers’ Benevolent Association (BBA) which is creating an emergency fund for those in severe financial distress, particularly those who do publicly funded work.
In an email to barristers, Pinto said: ‘Because of the seriousness of the situation, we expect demand for the BBA’s Covid-19 appeal to exceed what can be provided by the BBA, but the more donations those who can afford it make, the more people it will be able to help.’
Last week the Inns of Court announced that they are creating individual support packages for their members, aimed at very junior tenants and pupils. The Inner Temple has authorised a fund that will allow for financial assistance to the extent of a grant or loan of £2,500 per month for those who are able to show evidence of hardship. The Inn’s existing Marshall Hall Trust, which will administer this scheme, will start interviewing applicants this week.
The Inns are also making ‘substantial donations’ to the BBA’s fund, Pinto said. It is not yet clear how much money will be available.
Yesterday, the Bar Council was told to claim its share of the £1.35m cash pile held by Queen’s Counsel Appointments to help barristers during the pandemic. In a letter to Pinto, the Public Access Bar Association said the ‘huge’ reserves held by the company that recommends the appointment of QCs serve ‘no obvious or legitimate purpose’.
However, the Bar Council said it is up to the QC Appointments to decide what role it plays to help the bar.
In January, the Gazette revealed that QC Appointments had accumulated reserves of £1.35m. The company collected more than £750,000 from silk application and appointment fees in 2019 and £850,077 the previous year.