The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published new transparency rules in a revised edition of its Handbook. The new rules come into force immediately.
The new transparency rules are designed to improve the information available to the public before they engage the services of a barrister.
The rules, which have been approved by the Legal Services Board, follow recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority that legal regulators should introduce new requirements in this area. The rules, which are similar to those introduced by the SRA last year, 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 new transparency 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.