Gray's Inn

News update from The Bar Council

The Bar Council provides a regular News Update on general legal issues that will be of interest to our members.

The most recent News Updates can be viewed below. If you would would like to sign up to receive this News Update by email, please contact The Bar Council.

21 February 2018

Social mobility

The Times (The Brief) – An elected member of Bar Council, James Keeley, writes of his journey from poverty to the Bar.

Keeley, a criminal law barrister at the 36 Group, encourages young people aiming for life as a barrister not to be deterred by the prohibitive cost. He writes:

“To any young woman or man considering a career at the Bar or who is at the early stages of being a barrister, I offer this advice: seek out the inns, the circuits and the specialist Bar associations, because they offer a lot of financial and practical help and support. However, be realistic in your ambitions and try not to be put off by the appalling cost of qualifying at the Bar.”

Indefinite detention

Sussex Express – The Bar Council’s work on injustice in immigration detention is mentioned by the Sussex Express, who report that refugees who have fled war, torture or persecution in their own countries enjoyed a walk in celebration of freedom in the South Downs on Saturday. 

A campaign group said this was an opportunity many have been denied in the past; despite committing no crime they have found themselves imprisoned for weeks, months or even years at an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC).

Religious leaders, the Bar Council and The British Medical Association are amongst those calling on the Government to end indefinite detention and for the introduction of a strict 28-day limit when the new Immigration Bill is put before Parliament.

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

19 February 2018


Legal Futures – Coverage of the SRA’s calls for greater independence from the Law Society also references the Bar Council’s position, which is that the current arrangements work well and do not require change. Legal Futures writes:

The Bar Council stood alone in calling for no changes to the rules, saying the LSB had not provided “the evidence or any analysis” of their failings.

“Our position, informed by our experience operating under the IGRs, is that the existing arrangements work well.

“The structural set-up and working relationship between the Bar Council and BSB currently serve effectively to secure regulatory independence, and we are concerned that revising the rules wholesale or adding greater prescription or formality would undo all this and reverse years of good practice.”

Bar Training

Legal Futures - The role of the Inns of Court in the education and training of aspiring barristers has been strongly defended by the Bar Council after it was revealed that joining an inn could be no longer compulsory under Bar Standards Board (BSB) plans to overhaul the training of barristers.

The Bar Council believes that compulsory membership of an inn of court helps to create a level playing field for those at the early stages of entry to the barristers’ profession. It argues that through Inn dining sessions, workshops and other events where prospective pupils meet and form professional relationships with senior members of the profession, everyone has equal opportunities to get ahead. As Legal Futures reports, the barristers’ body warns that reducing the role of Inns in education and training would “disadvantage those with the least social capital” (ie, those lacking family connections or connections established by being part of a network of people who attended the same elite private schools).

“We do not believe that the benefits provided by Inn membership could be effectively replicated by any other institution, because there are no other institutions that can currently offer repeated contact both with practising members of the profession of a range of seniority, and with judges.”

Indefinite detention

The Church TimesChancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Mark Oakley argues that it is time for the Church to add its voice to calls for an end to indefinite detention.

He writes: “We are the only country in Europe which locks people up with no time limit, meaning that they enter detention with no idea when they will be freed. Many are held for months; some for years. As at 30 June 2017, the longest length of time a person has been detained was 1514 days.

“The Bar Council has emphasised that people are held for too long, with inadequate access to the courts and legal help.”

Bar Council Tweets @thebarcouncil

Date posted: 21 February 2018