New Selborne Chambers

At an extraordinary general meeting held in September 1961 a complicated set of resolutions was passed, two effects of which were to require lessees of rooms in new Selborne Chambers to pay £1,500 per room on occupation and to increase the capital value of the shares of the Wentworth Chambers members to a similar amount by extinguishing the uncalled liability of $500 per share. Parity was thus established between lessees of rooms in Selborne Chambers. The Wentworth Chambers lessees also enjoyed the benefit of the capital increment to their shares. The seven subscribers' shares were simultaneously transferred to the Bar Association and converted to deferred ordinary shares entitling the holder to all surplus capital on a winding up or sale and to any dividends declared, unless the Association agreed that a dividend be paid to the ordinary shareholders.

In a circular to shareholders, Barwick strongly resisted any thought of liquidation or sale as being "contrary to the whole spirit and intendment of the scheme", which was to provide a reason he directed attention to the difficulties to be experienced by young men coming to the Bar in future times, if the value of shares were to rise, balanced against the risks already taken by the original shareholders. The Board considered that capital accretions should “accrue for the benefit of the Bar as a whole and for future generations of barristers”, although in 1961 they declined to acknowledge any policy of controlling the sale price of the shares. The solution to the problem lay in making the Bar Association beneficial holder of all capital increments beyond the face value of the shares – an endowment which, in Barwick's opinion, was a major step in “setting up the Bar Association as the strong professional association which it should be”.

On the decision in 1961 to proceed with the construction of a virtual replica of Wentworth Chambers, another 250 ordinary shares of £1,500 each were issued. The most favourable terms of payment were a deposit of £100 and installments of £20 per month. Each share entitled the holder to the tenancy of a room approximately 200 square feet in area.

Tenders were called and that of T. C. Whittle Pty. Ltd was accepted for a building of steel construction at £662,705 with £5,160 for demolishing the old structure. The Crown experienced some delay in the acquisition of the Queen's Club but, when completed, the necessary alterations were carried out and by the end of March 1962 the movement of all members of old Selborne Chambers into the temporary premises as effected.

Meanwhile Counsel's Chambers Limited and the Association, appreciating the need of still further accommodation for the Bar, made enquiries concerning space in Chalfont Chambers, the Teachers' Federation building and the Law Society's building. The first two proved financially impracticable and the Law Society could not assist. The Bar Council did succeed, however, in conjunction with those members of the Bar remaining in Chalfont Chambers, in retaining the fifth and sixth floors of the chambers for the Bar. This involved the assignment of some tenancies, in various instances to a nominee of the Bar Council, so that the rooms might be held until prospective tenants and been admitted to the Bar.

New Selborne Chambers were completed in September 1963 and a month later the sixth to the thirteenth floors were occupied by barristers. The remainder, excluding the basement, was leased to the Crown. The total accommodation thus provided in the two buildings for the Bar was for approximately 350 barristers, more than twice the number in practice at the beginning of the century.

Previous Page | Next Page