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Barrister Mortgages – The professional casualty of the credit crunch?

Written by Sam Jones on 28 September 2012.

In a credit crunch, doctors are still on call, dentists need to extract teeth, accountants still prepare accounts and Barristers still need to litigate contentious matters – or do they?

There is a body of evidence, that divorce proceedings have fallen during the financial crisis as divorcing spouses, bide their time, for the appropriate juncture to make the separation.

Companies involved in contractual disputes, faced with large overheads and lower revenues seem more in-tune with the litigation risk, long term impact and business reality of a legal defeat. Individuals with neighbour disputes appear more prone to ignore the problems and persevere with nuisance, rather than initiate proceedings. Although, criminals do appear to be re-energised, with criminal trials, proving almost recession-proof, the funding cut backs from the legal services commission, do not bode well for the Barrister specialist in this area.

The general remuneration at the Bar, save for the limited preserve of tax and high end financial and commercial appears on a general downward curve. Those entering the profession are often burdened with enormous debt both from their study and the experience of pupillage, particularly in London and the South East. Solicitor advocates have eroded further the consequential recessionary cutbacks and lenders are becoming ever reluctant to consider Barrister applicants, without a strong track record of net income and a solid professional background, on an upward income curve.

The days of projections of earnings, clerk’s letters, reliance on accountant’s assessments have all but gone and like any other UK business, Barristers are now assessed on the basics. What is your income, what are your outgoings, what is the net profit? Is this mortgage affordable?

The approach cannot generally be criticised and forms the central premise of a regulated mortgage - that is, can it be deemed suitable and affordable? The fact is that achieving special treatment for Barristers unlike some other professions is becoming more problematic and whilst some regional building societies continue to take a more realistic view and holistic view, many of the larger UK national banks are become wiser to the increasing financial difficulties and threat of strike action now prevalent within the profession.

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