Written evidence from the Honourable Society
of the Inner Temple (AJ 03)|
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is pleased
to respond to the recent Justice Select Committee's inquiry on
Access to Justice and Sentencing Proposals. This memorandum is
submitted by the Sub-Treasurer, Patrick Maddams, the Inn's principal
This submission is intended to supplement other submissions
from the Bar. It focuses on issues where we feel that we can offer
additional insight and analysis, in particular on the following
"What impact will the proposed changes have
on the number and quality of practitioners, in all areas of law,
who offer services funded by legal aid?; and
"What are the implications of the Government's
1. The Inner Temple is one of the four
Inns of Court. As holders of the exclusive right to call candidates
to the Bar of England and Wales, the Inns continue to play an
essential role in the recruitment of prospective barristers. In
addition, we offer substantial scholarships to train for the Bar
and provide education and training - notably in advocacy - to
students, pupils, new and established practitioners.
2. The Inner Temple has a long history
of encouraging legal debate. As part of this role and the Inn's
prominence as a place for dialogue on issues of concern to the
profession, the Inn runs a series of seminars on topical issues.
This includes an upcoming seminar in February 2011 on the future
of legal education.
3. The Inn has over 8,000 qualified members,
including judges, barristers (practising and non-practising) and
pupils. Each year, roughly 450 students apply to the Inn with
the intention of training for the Bar.
4. Access to justice underpins the rule of law.
As basic access to justice is restricted, the rule of law is consequently
diminished. The outlined cuts to legal aid will amount to more
of the most vulnerable members in our society having less opportunity
to access quality legal advice and advocacy when they are most
in need. In addition to crime and family, these include those
involved in debt; immigration; employment; housing and welfare
5. Ultimately, the knock-on effects of legal
aid cuts will be a reduction in the number of barristers working
in these fields, large regional areas without any publicly-funded
advocates, a reduction in the number of pupillages available and
fewer people from under-represented backgrounds aspiring to work
in publicly-funded areas of law. This could lead not only to a
constriction in exclusively publicly-funded barristers but to
their extinction at the junior end. Consequently, in the longer-term,
there will be fewer senior specialist barristers in these fields
and subsequently fewer judges from these practice areas.
6. Barristers who work in publicly-funded
practice share a strong belief in the rule of law and importance
of high-quality advocacy and advice. They commit themselves to
these areas, despite the already low levels of remuneration, due
to its importance as public service. As barristers move their
practices away from this work, the likelihood of less qualified
representation and the possibility of miscarriages of justice
7. The Inner Temple has worked hard to
encourage diversity and social mobility in the profession. These
cuts will result in students from under-represented backgrounds
being discouraged from entering legal professions. As the Bar
constricts, so too will the number at its junior-end and the number
of pupillages available. The best and brightest graduates will
no doubt look to professions where their talents are properly
8. The Bar of England and Wales has a
strong reputation nationally and internationally for the quality
of its legal advice and advocacy as well as cost-effectiveness.
Under the Bar Code of Conduct, the cab rank rule ensures that
barristers in independent practice must accept instructions provided
that they are available and they are offered a "proper fee".
The Bar has long provided its specialist services to the public
irrespective of need.
9. As of December 2009, there were 12,241
self-employed barristers. In addition, there were 3,029 employed
"in-house" barristers and 462 pupil barristers in their
"first six". Of self-employed barristers, only 11% (1,318)
were senior professionals appointed Queens Counsel (QC).
10. It has been estimated that approximately
50% of self-employed barristers undertake publicly-funded work
in criminal defence or prosecution, family, immigration or administrative
work. This would be supported by the Criminal Bar Association
(CBA)'s estimated 5,000 members
in addition to those in the Family Law Bar Association and other
associated Specialist Bar Associations. Legal aid cuts will
therefore affect over 6,000 self-employed barristers, the
majority of which are junior barristers.
11. Recent research
conducted by the Inn has shown that fewer qualified barristers
are finding a lasting career in the profession. The progression
from pupillage to tenancy is increasingly tenuous as publicly-funded
work is reduced and funding is squeezed. While nearly 70% of Inner
Temple pupils in 2005-06 are currently practising at the Bar,
less than 40% of those from 2007-08 are doing so. The trend is
clear that fewer pupils in practices dominated by legal-aid
work are taken on for tenancy in Chambers or wish to continue.
In addition, junior barristers are moving their practices away
from publicly-funded work as it is not sustainable financially.
12. The criminal and
family Bar have been two of the most competitive for entry, due
to entrants' strong belief in both areas. This seems to be particularly
true for those entrants from non-traditional backgrounds
that are under-represented in the legal professions. Legal aid
cuts will have a destructive effect on our work to encourage access
to and diversity in the legal professions.
13. The Inner Temple is working hard to
raise the aspirations of young people and provide them with encouragement
and support in order to progress into the legal professions. From
working with schools on the pioneering Schools Project to connecting
with external organisations to promote legal education, the Inn
is working to ensure that the legal professions are well placed
to flourish by being more representative of society as a whole.
Some initiatives we have undertaken include:
The Inner Temple Schools Project launched
in 2008 aims to ensure that school students, regardless of their
background, are aware of the opportunities available to them at
the modern Bar and to raise aspirations towards the professions.
The project challenges stereotypes about professional careers,
provides state school students with information about the legal
system of England and Wales and promotes social mobility at the
Bar. Run in conjunction with Pathways to Law and the National
Education Trust, the project was recently highlighted in the Advisory
Panel for Judicial Diversity's final report.
In addition to attending over twenty law fairs, in
the 2009-10 academic year the Inner Temple reached 1600 university
students from every institution offering a qualifying law
degree in England and Wales. The Inn now runs dozens of events
a year to give university students information they require to
make informed decision on legal careers.
In addition, the Inn has an established history of
supporting its students and junior members financially.
In 2011, the Inn intends to make awards to a total
value of £1,260,000. Overall, the Inns of Court will
provide approximately £4,500,000. The majority of
these scholarships are for the Bar Professional Training Course.
The Inner Temple welcomes applicants from all backgrounds for
14. Of students pursuing
the Bar course in 2006, 77% stated that they intend to practise
at the self-employed Bar. 42% of respondents stated that they
wished to work in criminal practice, 34% indicated civil and 29%
indicated family. However, 31% of students noted that they had
debts over £20,000.
With no hope of recovering this from publicly-funded work, aspirations
to work in these areas will no doubt plummet.
15. In addition, a
lower proportion of ethnic minority respondents indicated that
they wished to practise at the self-employed Bar or in legally-aided
criminal and family practices due to financial instability. This
is likely to further widen under the legal aid cuts regime.
16. As the lifeblood
of the profession, we are particularly mindful of the junior Bar
and prospective entrants. Reduction in the number of pupillages
in publicly-funded practices will have the unintended consequence
of further discouraging non-traditional students from entering
the legal professions. This will negatively impact on the profession's
work in this area and the Government's own focus on social mobility
and access to the professions.
17. The Bar will respond
to the cuts in legal aid by continuing its public service role
and doing all that it can in the form of pro-bono work. The Inner
Temple supports the Bar Pro-Bono Unit, which provides advice,
representation and help at mediation in all legal areas, and the
Free Representation Unit, which provides legal advice,
case preparation and advocacy in tribunals - employment, social
security and criminal injury cases - for those who are not otherwise
able to obtain legal support. These organisations and others,
such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, will be increasing called upon
by the public at every level of legal proceedings.
18. In order to minimise
the adverse impact of these cuts on the profession, the Bar has
looked towards the future and implemented an ambitious modernisation
agenda. This includes encouraging direct public access
in certain areas, the ability to form partnerships with
other barristers and alternative business structures. Models
for alternative business structures include procurement companies
("ProcureCos"), a commercial face of Chambers that enable
them to bid directly for contacts from public bodies and corporations.
Others include Legal Disciplinary Partnerships, allowing barristers
to work in entities with solicitors and accountants as a legal
"one stop shop". These reforms will ensure that the
Bar is well placed to respond to the needs of society in an increasingly
challenging economic climate.
19. With the restructuring
of the Legal Services Commission as an executive non-departmental
public body, we would call on the Justice Select Committee to
carefully consider the importance of the bidding process for
legal-aid contracts in the current climate. The Bar, with
its low overhead costs and high-value specialist expertise, has
been shown to be excellent value for money. The Bar will continue
to embrace its fundamental professional ethos of working in the
public interest as long as it given a fair and equitable opportunity
to do so.
1 Bar Council Statistics (2010): http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/about/statistics/ Back
Mendelle QC, Paul and Christopher Kinch QC (2010): The Future
for the Publicly-Funded Criminal Bar: http://www.criminalbar.com/86/records/386/CBAletter6August.docFinalLtterhead.pdf Back
Bar Council (2006). BVC Student Survey on Aspirations for Practice
at the Bar. ERS Market Research. London. Back