Clause 182

Legal Services Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:45 pm on 26th June 2007.

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Unqualified person not to pretend to be a barrister

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

The Minister kindly said earlier that she would consider the issue of people not giving information about their professional qualifications at first introduction. The clause will make it an offence for an unqualified person to pretend to be a barrister. Am I right in assuming that that implies that it is not an offence at the moment? I think that everybody assumes that it is.

My understanding is that it is an anomaly that we have never legislated to make it an offence for somebody to present themselves as a barrister. We have such legislation for solicitors, doctors and other professions, so the clause is a welcome addition. This is one of those rare occasions when creating a new offence is a good idea. There are many Government new offences that some of us find OTT, but this might be a useful little addition to the legislation.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

The answer is yes, it is an offence. The clause will bring the offence provision into parity with offences under section 21 of the Solicitors Act 1974. The Bar Council has asked the Government to include the clause to uphold the significance of the Inns of Court, which provide education and training for barristers. That is why the clause is needed.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 182 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 183 ordered to stand part of the Bill.