Backlash forces Bar to drop 'Robin Hood' tax

The Bar has abandoned a plan to levy a tax on high-earning barristers to help pay for less well-off lawyers to join the profession.

A backlash by some of the most profitable chambers in the Temple led the Bar to rethink its proposals for ending the dominance of the rich and middle classes among its new membership.

In July a report by Sir Robin Mountfield, a former permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, recommended that barristers contribute 0.25 per cent of gross income, if earning between £100,000 and £250,000, or 0.5 per cent for those earning more than £250,000, towards a scholarship scheme. For a barrister on gross earnings of £100,000, the cost would be £5 a week. Sir Robin said the Bar's competitors – solicitors and accountants – all offered generous packages for training and guaranteed jobs afterwards.

But yesterday, the Bar's chairman, David Bean QC, announced that the Bar Council had rejected the proposed "Robin Hood" charge on higher-earning barristers because it had not received the backing of the whole of the Bar.

It is understood that the big commercial sets of chambers argued that they already paid large sums towards training and were not prepared to subsidise other chambers.

Mr Bean said: "While Mountfield's preferred solution will not, in the event, now be implemented, the debate it sparked has pushed this issue of access to the profession to the top of the Bar's agenda."

He added: "I regard the issue as one of great importance to the future of the Bar and it is vital that a solution is agreed in the next four months."

Instead, a meeting of the Bar Council in London resolved to review the problems associated with the cost of entry to the profession and to bring forward proposals to address the issue by July 2003.

In a motion passed by 78 votes to 1 the Bar Council said it recognised that entry to the profession should be based on merit alone and that able students should not be inhibited by financial constraints from joining the profession.

Last month a survey found that the barristers' profession is still the preserve of the rich and middle classes because they can afford to shoulder debts of up to £30,000.

Law students who cannot afford such heavy financial burdens end up as solicitors or find alternative careers, the report said.

The findings, based on a survey of 100 young barristers on the Western Circuit, support recent claims by Cherie Booth QC, the Prime Minister's wife, that the Bar is excluding students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A second survey published yesterday added further weight to the Bar's concern that financial pressures and a decrease in pupillages could be forcing junior barristers out of the profession and discouraging new entrants.

The survey of 370 junior barristers shows that the main reason young lawyers are leaving the Bar is because of financial difficulties.

Commenting on the survey, Mr Bean said: "Our concerns about the cost of qualification and its impact on excellence and diversity in the profession are well documented and we are actively pursuing a workable solution to meet the concerns of all parties."

He said the Government should "take heed" of the potential impact of funding restrictions on the supply of good advocates to act in cases of public importance.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little