Inns and outs of barristers forced to eat their way to work

July 5, 1996

Universities and colleges planning to run training courses for would-be barristers will be bound by the age-old traditions of the London inns of court, it has emerged.

Institutions bidding to offer the bar vocational course will be required to arrange inns membership for their students, even though they may be hundreds of miles from London. And students on the new BVC courses may even have to travel to London to dine at the inns - currently a compulsory part of barrister training.

The bar council has been in discussion with heads of inns over their future role with the ending of the bar school's monopoly on barrister training. Next Saturday, the council will announce which institutions it has decided to validate out of 15 bidding to run the BVC from September next year.

Nigel Bastin, the bar council's head of education, said that although facilities provided by the inns will be out of reach of students in many of the newly validated institutions, there are no plans to relax the requirement that all trainees must be inns members, at a cost of Pounds 85.

And despite a call from last year's bar council chairman, Peter Goldsmith, for a reduction in the number of dinners BVC students must attend, dining at the inns may also remain mandatory.

All trainee barristers on the new courses could have to dine up to 18 times at a total cost of Pounds 150.

Mr Bastin said the bar council had hoped that its proposals for delaying call to the bar for six months would allow students to complete their dining once they had finished their course. But it has had to go back to the drawing board following advice that its plans could lead to indirect discrimination.

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