27 June 2014

New businesses for barristers – BSB seeks approval to become a regulator of entities

Lawyers who are engaged in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice will be able to use a wider range of business structures to offer increasingly joined-up services to meet clients' needs and interests, following an application by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to become a regulator of entities. The BSB submitted the application to the Legal Services Board (LSB) this week.

If granted, the BSB will then become a regulator of entities - businesses that must be authorised to carry out and provide "reserved legal activities", like appearing in court as an advocate.

Becoming a regulator of entities that focus on advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice could significantly help broaden the public's choice as to how they access legal services.

Under the BSB's proposed entity-regulation regime, barristers and other advocacy focussed lawyers would be able to pool together resources and share the risks of investing in their own business, without having to change regulators.

Chair of the Bar Standards Board, Baroness Ruth Deech QC (Hon) said: "Once our application is approved it will help new advocacy focussed business models emerge and flourish, which in turn will increase client choice. Barristers will be better placed to come up with new and innovative ways of providing legal services. This is good news for the public."

New research published earlier this month by the BSB and the Bar Council showed there to be a clear interest among the Bar to set up or become part of an entity:

  • 34% of family barristers and 26% of criminal barristers had definite or possible intentions to become involved in an entity with only barristers owners and managers;
  • 26% of criminal barristers and 23% of family barristers had definite or potential plans regarding entities with barristers and other lawyers as owners and managers; and
  • 18% of criminal barristers and 17% of family barristers had definite or potential plans regarding entities with barristers, other lawyers and lay people as owners and managers.

The Legal Services Board has 90 days to make its decision regarding the BSB application.


Notes to editors

The BSB's application to the Legal Services Board (LSB) for the approval of amendments to its regulatory arrangements to enable the regulation of entities is available on the LSB's website.

About entities

An entity is a corporate structure (eg partnership, limited liability partnership or company).  Under the Legal Services Act 2007, in order for 'reserved legal activities' to be provided through an entity structure both the entity and the individual providing those services must be authorised by an Approved Regulator. "Reserved legal activity" is defined in section 12 of the Legal Services Act 2007 and means

(a) the exercise of a right of audience;

(b) the conduct of litigation;

(c) reserved instrument activities;

(d) probate activities;

(e) notarial activities;

(f) the administration of oaths.

Barristers have been able to set up entities since 2010. To date, these have had to be regulated by another Approved Regulator.

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

Contact: for media enquiries please call 0207 611 1452 (07432 713 328 outside of normal working hours) or email contactus@barstandardsboard.org.uk