THE RAMIFICATIONS of allowing businesses to take a stake in legal practices would be enormous, the chairman of the Bar of England and Wales, Stephen Irwin QC, told the 2004 Bar Conference in London this month.
The Bar chairman warned of a strong consensus among lawyers around the world against ownership of legal practices by non-lawyers. The idea, floated by a government review of the legal professions led by Sir David Clementi, has aroused considerable controversy.
Addressing 400 barristers and delegates, Irwin said the risks of outside ownership encouraged criminal or terrorist control of law practices. He warned that deregulating the law in this way could fuel a compensation culture rivalling that in the US.
“We do not in fact have a compensation culture in Britain. We are absolutely not in the American position on this front. However, the best possible recipe for creating a compensation culture in the UK would be to allow capitalist ownership of law practices,” Irwin said.