Legal Business Blogs

Broadening ‘the public’s choice’: Bar Standards Board to regulate businesses from 2015

The Bar Standards Board (BSB)  has received approval from the Legal Services Board (LSB) for its application to regulate businesses that are authorised to carry out and provide reserved legal activities.

Announced yesterday (2 December), the BSB will start accepting applications for entities regulated under its remit from 5 January 2015, authorising applications from April 2015. In a statement the body said that by regulating entities that focus on advocacy, litigation, and specialist legal advice, it will ‘significantly help broaden the public’s choice as to how they access legal services’.

Barristers and advocacy-focused lawyers will be able to pool resources and share risk in investing in their own business, without having to change regulators. Barristers currently need to switch to regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The BSB expects to regulate between 900 and 1400 single person entities in the first three years of operation.

BSB chair Baroness Deech QC said: ‘I am pleased that our application has been approved. Our research shows there is clear interest on the part of the Bar in setting up or becoming part of an entity. As the regulator of barristers we are committed to helping the Bar develop new and innovative ways of providing legal services, because we believe this will benefit consumers and be in the public interest.’

The change comes as Baroness Deech is due to step down from her role at the end of this year to be succeeded by Sir Andrew Burns, who currently leads the government’s work on post-Holocaust initiatives and served as a former UK Ambassador to Israel.

Less popular moves by the BSB this year included the hugely controversial Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA), a scheme proposing that barristers may only accept trials on a par with their assessed and graded advocacy abilities.