19 August 2019

Latest edition of BSB Handbook introduces new Bar transparency rules

1 July 2019

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published new transparency rules in a revised edition of its Handbook. The new rules come into force immediately.

The new rules are designed to improve the information available to the public before they engage the services of a barrister.

The rules have now been approved by the Legal Services Board. They follow recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority that legal regulators should introduce new requirements in this area. The rules relate to information about the areas of law in which barristers practise, the legal services provided by barristers, what those services cost, and a client's right to redress.

The rules require all self-employed barristers, chambers and BSB-regulated entities to publish specified information about their services, including which types of legal service they provide, their most commonly used pricing models (such as fixed fee or hourly rate) and details of their clients' rights of redress. Public Access barristers providing certain types of services are also required to publish additional price and service information.

Barristers have until January 2020 to be fully compliant with the new rules, after which, spot-checking by the BSB will begin but the regulator's focus will initially be on ensuring compliance rather than pursuing disciplinary sanctions. The BSB has today, also published guidance to help the profession comply with the new rules.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod, said:

"The introduction today of these new rules will enable the public to make more informed decisions before engaging a barrister. We intend to support, and to work closely with, the profession to enable it to comply with these new transparency standards."

The new edition of the BSB Handbook is available here.

The guidance for barristers is available on the BSB website.

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

About the new Bar transparency rules

The new rules require self-employed barristers, chambers and BSB entities to:

  • state that professional, licensed access and/or lay clients (as appropriate) may contact them to obtain a quotation for legal services;
  • provide contact details;
  • state their most commonly used pricing models, such as fixed fees or hourly rates;
  • state the areas of practice in which they most commonly provide legal services;
  • describe their most commonly provided legal services;
  • provide information about the factors which might influence the timescales of their most commonly provided legal services;
  • display text on their homepage indicating they are regulated by the Bar Standards Board;
  • display information about their complaints procedure, any right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO), how to complain to the LeO, and any time limits for making a complaint;
  • link to the decision data on the LeO's website; and
  • link to the Barristers' Register pageon the BSB's website.

There are also additional transparency rules with which they must comply in relation to the provision of the following Public Access services:

  • Employment Tribunal cases (advice and representation for employers and employees);
  • Financial disputes arising out of divorce;
  • Immigration appeals (First-tier Tribunal);
  • Inheritance Act advice;
  • Licensing applications in relation to business premises;
  • Personal injury claims;
  • Summary only motoring offences (advice and representation for defendants); and
  • Winding-up petitions.

In certain circumstances listed in the BSB's price transparency policy statement, barristers providing these Public Access services will be required by the rules to:

  • state any pricing model(s) which they use, such as whether they charge fixed fees or hourly rates;
  • state their indicative fees and the circumstances in which they may vary;
  • state whether their fees include VAT (where applicable);
  • state any likely additional costs or give a typical range of costs if only an estimate is possible; and
  • describe the relevant Public Access services they provide, including a concise statement of the key stages and an indicative timescale for those key stages.

 More information about the new rules is available here.

 

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk .