The Bar has nothing to fear from an online court, but it must take direct access “seriously”, Lord Justice Briggs has said. In particular, he said, the young Bar, which “excels” in providing a “competitive” service, would be well placed to play its part in the new court.
The Bar’s regulator will take a “cautious” approach to licencing alternative business structures (ABSs) and look closely at non-lawyer owners to ensure no “naughty” behaviour, but said over the weekend that there is strong interest in the possibilities on offer.
Lawyers who don’t believe the “writing is on the wall” that unregulated legal services will increase “may find themselves on the wrong side of history”, the founder of direct access website Absolute Barrister has warned. He advised barristers to focus on their legal expertise more broadly, rather than advocacy skills.
Outer Temple Chambers has taken the unprecedented step of setting up what is effectively a separate international law firm, employing a solicitor. Outer Temple International, a Bar Standards Board-regulated entity, has now secured insurance and is set to go live this week.
Significant numbers of new advocates are “weaker than might be hoped on basic knowledge” of ethical rules, a major report has found. The report also found that ethics training before and after qualification was “insufficiently robust or frequent to enable confident ethical practice amongst new advocates”.
The Bar Standards Board has backed a more flexible, outcomes-based continuing professional development regime, despite the fears of some board members that it would degenerate into a “paper exercise”. The move follows a consultation exercise to which only one individual barrister, along with six organisations, responded.
A solicitor who made multiple complaints against two barristers who acted for the claimant in litigation in which he was a defendant, has failed in an application to judicially review the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) decision to dismiss the complaints.
A barrister is to be reprimanded by the head of his circuit after turning up to court under the influence of alcohol and then leaving before a hearing had finished. Meanwhile, a separate tribunal has disbarred a barrister who was convicted of evading rail fares in and out of Marylebone Station in London.
Criminal defence work is still beset by the “corrupt practices” of a minority of solicitors, as well as law firms sending incompetent in-house advocates to court – instead of instructing counsel – because of the financial benefits, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association has claimed.
The Law Society has raised its opposition to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) plan to allow practising solicitors to operate from unregulated law firms to an unprecedented level, issuing a report that said there would be little or no economic benefit from the move.