Report #11: An interview with Toby Craig, Head of Communications, The Bar Council
The Bar Council represents the interests of all barristers in England & Wales – the regulatory function being carried out by the independent Bar Standards Board.
Facing significant change in the way legal services are delivered in the wake of the Legal Services Act , increasing competition from solicitor-advocates and a government now cutting back on the provision of legal aid, proposing to restrict judicial review and pushing through legislation on secret trials – the role of the Bar Council in the legal profession is a very important one.
Last Sunday I did a podcast with John Cooper QC on the controversial issue of referral fees. Toby Craig, head of communications for The Bar Council contacted me soon after I published this podcast to ask if I would be prepared to do a podcast with him to enable The Bar Council to put their view.
The discussion with Toby Craig covered a number of controversial issues which members of the Bar have expressed concern to me about.
In this podcast we look at:
1. The Role of The Bar Council
2. The relationship of The Bar Council with government
3. The potential conflict of interest in relation to the Attorney-general who is the head of the Bar
4. Michael Turner QC’s robust criticisms published in The Daily Mirror: Injustice for all: Leading QC on why legal aid cuts and change in regulation is bad news for Britain
5. How democratic is the Bar Council and the controversy during the recent Criminal Bar Association elections
6. Criticism of The Bar Council raised in a report commissioned in 2011
7. Referral fees – the Bar stance is that referral fees are a breach of the Code of Practice and will also give rise to civil and criminal liability – issues raised by Nicholas Lavender QC in June 2012. I ask Toby Craig what steps the Bar Council is taking to survey Chambers that may have paid or are currently engaged in paying referral fees to bring in work.
8. Social media and diversity at the Bar
The podcast raises important issues of representation and professional ethics and I welcome comment and discussion from members of the Bar and others with an interest.