Barrister Governing Benchers

Eligibility for Nomination

A member of the Inn in practice as a self-employed barrister or as an employed barrister (as defined in the Bar Standards Board Handbook); who has shown ability and distinction in their practice. Seniority as a member of the Inn or in Silk shall not be a determinative factor as to suitability for nomination or election.

Nomination and Application Procedure

Barrister Governing Bencher candidates must be proposed by THREE Governing Benchers, of whom at least TWO must be current Barrister Governing Benchers. The third may be a Judicial or an Other Governing Bencher. Members of the Bencher Nomination Committee are not permitted to support a nomination. Each of the proposing Governing Benchers must provide a letter or email of support (further details below). A list of Governing Benchers is available on the Inn’s website.

Candidates are invited to complete an online application by 5pm on Friday 7 May 2021. The following information will be required for the application: 

  1. The candidate’s personal details;
  2. A statement from the candidate (no more than 200 words), demonstrating their qualification for election and including details of their recent support of the Inn, having regard to Bench Table Orders (BTO) 3.2 and 3.3 and the Criteria for the Election of Benchers (BTO Appendix 5). A full copy of the BTOs is available to download on the Members’ Area of the Inn’s website here;
  3. Document upload of the candidate’s CV (of no more than two sides of A4) to include information presented under the following headings: brief statement of nature of practice at the Bar; Inn or other Scholarships gained; professional or other appointments. Please do not include personal details on the CV;
  4. Photograph of candidate (high quality and resolution, suitable for professional print, JPG format);
  5. The names of the three Governing Benchers who are supporting the nomination;
  6. Document upload of supporting references from each of the three Governing Benchers, addressed for the attention of Master Reader, Chair of the Bencher Nomination Committee. References should set out the reasons in favour of the candidate being elected, having particular regard to the Criteria for the Election of Benchers. It is not necessary for the supporting references to be lengthy. Governing Benchers should, however, note that separate and full references are of assistance to the Bencher Nomination Committee. Please note, references can be uploaded or alternatively sent directly by the candidate or their proposing Governing Benchers by email to Jennie Collis Price at jcollisprice@innertemple.org.uk. All references must be received by the deadline of 5pm on Friday 7 May 2021;
  7. A declaration that the candidate is 1) a Member of the Society in practice as a self-employed barrister or as an employed barrister (as defined in the Bar Standards Board Handbook); and 2) knows of no any adverse circumstances material to their candidacy (whether bankruptcy or other financial problems, criminal conviction or pending proceedings (other than in relation to parking), disciplinary offence or pending proceedings, or of any other kind). If there are any such circumstances, the candidate should provide details in writing to the Head of the Sub-Treasurer's Office, Jennie Collis Price, by email to jcollisprice@innertemple.org.uk.
  8. An undertaking that if elected the candidate will serve the Society in the ways set out in BTO 3.3 below:

A Governing Bencher is expected to:

  • attend at Parliaments and Bench Tables wherever possible;
  • attend meetings of committees and sub-committees of the Society to which they have been elected and meetings of other bodies to which they have been nominated by the Society;
  • assist the Society in carrying out the education and training functions of the Society.

We also invite candidates to complete an optional and anonymous online Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form as part of the online application to enable the Bencher Nomination Committee and Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity Sub-Committee to monitor diversity data on the point of nomination. Successful candidates will be asked to complete a further anonymous monitoring form on election so as to track diversity statistics.

Incomplete nominations or those received after the deadline of 5pm on Friday 7 May 2021 may not be considered.

Please contact the Head of the Sub-Treasurer’s Office, Jennie Collis Price, at jcollisprice@innertemple.org.uk or by telephone to 0207 797 8177 if you have any questions.

Please note, the application form will automatically save your details for up to 15 days provided that you are using the same computer or device and internet browser to access the application.

Review of Candidates

Each nomination will be considered by the Bencher Nomination Committee. When selecting candidates to be put forward for election as Barrister Governing Benchers, the Bencher Nomination Committee shall have regard to the Criteria for the Election of Benchers (BTO Appendix 5).

If the number of Barrister Governing Bencher candidates selected to be put forward by the Bencher Nomination Committee does not exceed the number of spaces available for election, the Committee may recommend to the Executive Committee that all candidates should be put forward to Bench Table for direct election. However, if there are more suitable candidates than there are spaces, the Committee may determine to arrange a ballot of Governing Benchers: in which case further details of voting procedures for Governing Benchers will be circulated in June. 

Candidates nominated from circuits other than the South Eastern circuit or from the Employed Bar may be nominated by the Committee for direct election without entry into any ballot (BTO 5.8). Such candidates will be submitted to the Executive Committee, who shall consider whether or not to approve each of the Direct Nominees. If approved, the Direct Nominee is eligible for election at Bench Table; if not approved, they shall cease to be a Direct Nominee but shall become eligible for entry in the ballot.

A proposal for election as a Barrister Governing Bencher shall remain valid (although it may be updated) until the end of the calendar year falling two years after the year of the first meeting of the Bencher Nomination Committee at which the candidate is considered, unless the candidate indicates that they do not wish to be considered further at any stage.

Selection Criteria

Bench Table Order 3.3 defines the expectations of Governing Benchers as follows:

  • attend at Parliaments and Bench Tables wherever possible;
  • attend meetings of committees and sub-committees of the Society to which they have been elected and meetings of other bodies to which they have been nominated by the Society;
  • assist the Society in carrying out the education and training functions of the Society.

A document outlining examples of the role and duties of Governing Benchers is available here.

When selecting candidates to be put forward for election as Barrister, Judicial or Other Governing Benchers, the Bencher Nomination Committee shall have, inter alia, regard to the following:

(a)     Any specific need(s) that the Inn may have at that time for Benchers who possess the skills and interests necessary to perform one or more of its functions;
(b)     The extent to which the candidate appears to possess skills and interests required by the Inn either generally or in relation to any specific need(s) identified under (a) above;
(c)     The extent to which the candidate has demonstrated a strong likelihood that, as a Governing Bencher, they will make a positive contribution to the affairs of the Inn;
(d)     The extent to which the candidate has taken, or is taking, any significant part in the affairs of the Inn or, more generally in the affairs of the legal profession, whether on the Bar Council, on circuit; in a specialist Bar association or the Judicial College; or otherwise.

As to (c), a strong likelihood that a candidate will make a positive contribution to the affairs of the Inn is best evidenced by previous participation in the affairs of the Inn or of the legal profession. However, it is recognised that, on occasion, circumstances may have prevented the candidate from such previous participation. In such cases, the Committee will take the candidate’s particular circumstances fully into account and will look for evidence of a real intention on the part of the candidate, if elected, to play an active part in the Inn’s affairs. 

Bench Commons Subscription

Bench Commons is a subscription and invoicing system granted to Governing and Senior Benchers to encourage them to take part in events that are Qualifying Sessions for students and to facilitate participation in the social and collegiate life of the Inn. Bench Commons covers the cost of attendance for Benchers at all Qualifying Sessions and can also be used as a credit charging facility to pay for chargeable social events, for the purchase of merchandise or for car parking permits.

The Bench Commons quarterly subscription is currently £79 (and subject to annual RPI increases). Bench Commons bills are invoiced retrospectively at the end of each quarter in March, June, September and December and can be paid by direct debit. Bench Commons are currently under review. If you would like to speak to the Sub-Treasurer about the Bencher Commons Subscription, please do so by email to subtreasurer@innertemple.org.uk.