The term 'bar' is often used as a synonym for lawyers. However, it does not literally mean a group of lawyers. It is derived from the French term 'braie' which means a door in medieval castles, hence the name of Bar Association.
The Bar Council is the professional body for barristers in England and Wales. It represents the interests of over 15,000 practising barristers, and promotes the highest standards of ethics, education and practice in the profession.
The term 'bar' in this context refers to the legal profession as a whole. Barristers are members of the Bar, and the Bar Council represents their interests.
The Bar Council's role is to protect and promote the public interest in the administration of justice. It does this by:
• regulating the profession;
• setting standards of education and training;
• keeping an eye on and enforcing adherence to those standards;
• promoting the reform of the law;
• representing the profession in dealings with the public, the media and the government;
• supporting and representing individual members of the profession.
The Bar Council is governed by a Council of 36 members, elected from among the profession's practicing barristers. The Council meets four times a year to discuss issues of importance to the profession, and to make policy decisions.
The Bar Council's work is overseen by a number of committees, which consider specific issues in more detail and make recommendations to the Council. The Bar Standards Board is the independent regulatory body for the Bar, and is responsible for setting and enforcing the standards of education and conduct expected of barristers.
The Bar Council is headed by the Chairman, who is elected by the Council. The current Chairman is Andrew Langdon QC. The Bar Council has a number of committees which deal with specific areas of interest, such as equality and diversity, education and training, and international relations. The Bar Council is funded by a levy on the practising fees of barristers, and by grants from the Legal Aid Agency. The Bar Council does not provide legal advice or services to the public. If you need legal advice, you should contact a solicitor.
The Bar Council is funded by a combination of membership fees and government funding.