General Council of the Bar

The General Council of the Bar, commonly known as the Bar Council, is the representative body for barristers in England and Wales. Established in 1894, the Bar Council is the 'approved regulator' of barristers, but discharges its regulatory function to the independent Bar Standards Board. As the lead representative body for barristers in England and Wales, the Bar Council’s work is devoted to ensuring the Bar’s voice is heard, efficiently and effectively, and with the interests of the Bar (and the public interest) as its focus. .[1]

General Council of the Bar
PurposeRepresentative body for barristers in England and Wales
Derek Sweeting
Vice Chair
Mark Fenhalls


The General Council of the Bar was created in 1894 to deal with breaches of a barrister's professional etiquette, something that had previously been handled by the judiciary.[2] Along with the Inns of Court it formed the Senate of the Inns of Court and the Bar in 1974, a union that was broken up on 1 January 1987 following a report by Lord Rawlinson. The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 designated the Bar Council as the professional body for barristers, with the role as a regulatory body being split off in 2006 to form the Bar Standards Board.


The Bar Council campaigns on a range of issues in the profession and the public interest, including on social mobility, diversity and the state of the justice system. Its campaigns involve a range of press and media work, policy work, public affairs, stakeholder engagement and other communications activity.

I am the Bar

In Summer 2018, the Bar Council launched 'I am the Bar', to profile the experiences of those who have succeeded at the Bar from "non-traditional" backgrounds.

The award-winning campaign is designed to:

Raise the profile of social mobility to encourage aspiring barristers from under-represented backgrounds, highlight efforts made to improve access to & diversity at the Bar, support efforts to improve insight into the profession, drawing together social mobility efforts across chambers, Inns, other organisations and individual barristers.


The Bar Council campaigns for a properly funded and functioning system of justice, putting the case to Government for investment in the system, speaking to the public and highlighting gaps in access to justice in the public interest.

It continues to campaign in this area including through the press, social media and other communications and parliamentary activity.

Modernising the Bar

The Bar Council is leading the way in speeding up progress in modernising the Bar through various programmes and initiatives. We want to break down barriers to progress for all barristers and create a culture change at the Bar.

As the Bar Council celebrated 100 years of women in law, it considered how it wanted to shape the Bar for the next 100 years. This means breaking down barriers and obstacles that prevent women, those with disabilities, Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic and LGBT+ barristers from progressing and building thriving practices.

Its Accelerator Programme is aimed at speeding up progress to modernise the Bar and includes initiatives like: The Bar Council Leadership Programme, mentoring and sponsorship initiatives, best practice guides, supporting the young Bar, tackling discrimination, bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviours.

List of Chairs


  1. "About the Bar Council". General Council of the Bar. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  2. "History". General Council of the Bar. Archived from the original on 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  3. King, Katie (4 January 2017). "Bar Council appoints crime QC as second non-London chairman in three years". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  4. "Making his mark – in Jonathan Hirst, barristers have a leader facing up to the demands of competition". The Law Society Gazette. 13 January 2000. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  5. "The Rt Hon Lord Justice Bean appointed Chairman of the Law Commission and Professor David Ormerod QC re-appointed". Law Commission. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  6. "Mr Justice Irwin". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. 31 July 2015. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  7. "Bar Council introduces new leadership". The Lawyer. 12 October 2004. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  8. Hope, Christopher (4 July 2008). "Sharia will 'inevitably' become part of British law, says barrister". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  9. "Michael Todd QC Bar Council". New Law Journal. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  10. "Nicholas Lavender QC—Chairman of the Bar Council". New Law Journal. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  11. "New Chairman of the Bar takes the helm at the Bar Council". The Bar Council. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  12. "Andrew Langdon QC becomes Chairman of the Bar". The Bar Council. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  13. "Andrew Walker QC becomes Chair of the Bar". The Bar Council. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  14. "Bar Council Membership, Meetings and Minutes". The Bar Council. Retrieved 12 September 2020.