17 September 2019

Legal Services Board launches consultation to modify some of our regulatory powers and to put them on a statutory footing

A new Legal Services Board (LSB) consultation has been issued. The proposals would give the Bar Council new powers (delegated to the BSB) which would enable us to exercise our regulatory functions more effectively and efficiently. These powers would be obtained via a statutory order under section 69 of the Legal Services Act 2007.

The new powers which are explained in detail in the LSB consultation cover a range of aspects including a new statutory power to enable the regulator to intervene in entities' and individual barristers' practices in order to protect the public interest. The BSB only foresees the need to use such powers in extreme situations where there is no other option to protect a client's interests. For example, to retrieve client files when a barrister or entity is unable to act for that client so that the files can be passed to another barrister.

The order includes other powers, such as:

  • Putting the BSB's disciplinary arrangements on a statutory footing and establishing a statutory disqualification power;
  • Giving us a statutory power to request information or to establish compensation arrangements;
  • Enabling the BSB to make rules to send appeals to the First Tier Tribunal.

The LSB's consultation closes on Tuesday 22 November. It outlines some changes in scope since the BSB originally consulted on its proposals. These have been agreed following detailed drafting discussions with the Ministry of Justice. The LSB's consultation therefore seeks views on those policy issues as well as the draft order.