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Exclusive: Hardwicke Chambers proposes £125k rent per barrister
30 November 2012
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Barristers at Hardwicke Chambers are in uproar following the announcement of a raft of modernising proposals.

Hardwicke's management is looking at a comprehensive overhaul to avoid financial difficulties in the future. A document was sent to members of the set suggesting changes that include:

  • Five yearly reviews, with barristers who don't pull their weight being shown the door;
  • Details of individual earnings being shared around chambers;
  • Members being made consultants before retiring;
  • Heads of chambers being authorised to access other members' emails;
  • And most controversially: "Minimum rent scheme (only to apply after 5 years of practice). Two possibilities have been discussed: a simple minimum (say £125,000 a year after 5 years in practice) or a more complex model that applies to members after 5 years - a rent that assumes a minimum of 1000 hours a year at your median hourly rate".
Are they really suggesting an annual rent of £125,000? Will each barrister be moving to a floor of the Dorchester?

Solicitors have had to suffer such indignities for decades, but the Bar is now facing real change too: 24 members of a rival set, 4-5 Gray's Inn, defected to 39 Essex Street this week. But Hardwicke barristers accustomed to membership for life, long lunches at the Garrick and a nice snooze in the afternoon have apparently "hit the roof".

    I shouldn't have had that third port

Head of Chambers Paul Reed Q.C. has invited disgruntled briefs to meet him one-on-one for a discussion. But an insider says the take up has been poor: possibly because the former army man is said to have "reputedly garroted two men during a battle".

Hardwicke said that the "information about minimum rents has been taken out of context and misunderstood", but failed to clarify it.


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