Bar Council welcomes BSB proposed changes to public access

29 January 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the Bar Standards Board's (BSB) proposed changes to Public Access training, which look to 'enhance the course content and introduce an element of formal assessment' to ensure barristers have the requisite knowledge and skills to carry out public access work.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"The Bar is determined to do all it can to ensure that the public continues to have access to highly skilled and properly trained barristers. Alongside welcome moves to allow barristers under three years' standing to take public access instructions and to include clients who may be eligible for legal aid, robust training is important in making sure that high standards are maintained. For cases which are suitable for public access, the scheme represents an affordable and simple route to justice for many people.

"The flexibility of public access, which enables access to high quality advice for all or part of a legal problem, as the client requires, ensures that the Bar will continue to play a relevant and leading role in an evolving legal services market. Services such as BARCO, the Bar Council's new, third-party, escrow account, will make it easier than ever before to instruct the Bar in appropriate public access cases.

 ENDS

 Notes to editors:

1. Further information is available from the  Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or Press@BarCouncil.org.uk .

2. For more information on public access, please visit:  http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/instructing-a-barrister/public-access/.

3. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent   Bar Standards Board  .