Hard Times At The Bar: BSB Chief Baroness Deech Can’t Even Afford Postage Stamps

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By Alex Aldridge on

“I have to warn you followers of my blog, no more Xmas cards from me, they will be too expensive,” wrote Bar Standards Board (BSB) chair Baroness Ruth Deech on her most recent blog post.

Deech was writing in response to the announcement that the price of first class stamps is to rise to 60p at the end of this month – an increase of 12p.

Might this extreme budgeting have contributed to a recent BSB report on advocacy standards which some appear to be suggesting has been done on the cheap? Yesterday, legal academic Richard Moorhead became the latest bigshot to lampoon it, labelling the report “crass” and “biased” in the Guardian.

I enjoyed one of Moorhead’s analogies in particular.

“To make matters worse, the survey goes on to support the view that solicitor advocates and the Crown Prosecution Service are the main problem, based on twelve 15-minute interviews. That sample is also dominated by barristers. Imagine Gaby Logan has asked ten Chelsea fans and two others which is the best Premiership team. “Chelsea are perceived as the better Premier League team”, intones Gabby to camera. Even a Chelsea fan would ask: “What was the point of that?”

This isn’t the first time the BSB has come in for criticism this year, with the body memorably failing to prevent a barrister from practising while on bail awaiting sentencing in January – until notified by Legal Cheek.

Meanwhile, in February the BSB provoked students’ ire for allowing wildly differing exam lengths between Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) providers. And then, of course, is the meal the body has made out of introducing an aptitude test for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) – a process that began in 2009 but still hasn’t happened yet following a series of delays.

But when viewed in the context of the exceptionally trying financial circumstances hinted at by Deech in her blog, these little mishaps are surely forgive-able.

Clearly, the BSB needs some help. That’s why I’m pledging to forgo impulse supermarket check-out purchases until Christmas, and re-direct the small change I’d usually put towards bottom-of-the-range chocolate bars to help the poor Baroness with her Christmas cards.