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The Bar Council is to lift the restrictions governing direct access to the Bar to counter the threat posed by solicitor-advocates.Companies without in-house legal departments and institutions such as charities, unions and health authorities will, for the first time, be able to instruct the Bar directly.At present only a handful of professional bodies are permitted direct access to the Bar.A pilot project will be launched within weeks and the scheme, labelled ‘BarDirect’, is expected to be fully implemented by July.It is understood it will be backed by an aggressive £100,000 marketing campaign.BarDirect will act as a bridge between lay clients and chambers which sign up to the scheme by setting and monitoring the terms of engagement between the two sides.At less than 1% of fees earned, the council hopes that the cost for sets joining BarDirect will be outweighed by the rise in work. It hopes the plan will increase the profession’s £5bn annual income by 15%-20%.Law Society deputy vice president Kamlesh Bahl said she would like to see what measures would be used to protect clients.

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