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Inns of Court to launch emergency relief fund for junior barristers

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Wealthy foursome will also ‘relieve hardship’ on chambers’ rental obligations

The Inns of Court are to create an emergency cash fund to support pupil and junior barristers in financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, the wealthy foursome — Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn — said they were working urgently on a “package of measures to assist barristers most in need”.

This includes an immediate cash contribution towards an emergency fund set up by Barristers’ Benevolent Association (BBA) and the creation of special Inn-run hardship funds. The latter are designed primarily to assist pupils and other junior barristers who are not eligible for either the government assistance for the self-employed or for help from the BBA, according to the statement.

The group also confirmed that they are taking steps to “relieve hardship” in relation to the rental obligations of each chambers on each Inn’s estate.

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News of the emergency measures come as a judge urged the government to provide greater financial support to criminal barristers, “who play such an important role in maintenance of the fabric of our society”.

In a letter to The Times newspaper, His Honour Judge Ticehurst claimed that 90% of barristers do not qualify for government support as their profits exceed £50,000. But this seemingly healthy five-figure-sum is before the deduction of overheads such as childcare, he continues, so in reality many earn well below £50,000 and face financial ruin without assistance.

Earlier this month, a Bar Council survey found that a whopping 81% of chambers said they will not survive the next 12 months without government-backed financial aid if the pandemic persists. Fifty-five percent said they cannot survive the next six months.

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