All private practice barristers should publish their fees, says regulator

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has recommended that new rules on publishing fees should cover all self-employed barristers, in a bid to increase transparency for lay clients.

The proposal extends beyond the recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority, which called for the publication of fees only for barristers conducting public access work.

In a paper, Response to the Competition and Market Authority’s recommendations, the BSB outlines two methods by which this could be done. Option one would be for self-employed barristers in chambers to provide individual price and service information on their chambers’ website. While option two, which the BSB prefers, would be for chambers to publish ‘blended price and service information’ on their websites for all of the barristers in their set, taking the form of price ranges, indicative fees for standard work, or average fees.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen Macleod, said: ‘There must be a balance between improving consumer understanding and genuinely promoting competition on the one hand, and not overburdening barristers and chambers or producing information overload for clients on the other.’

He said the BSB had outlined an approach that would achieve that balance, but said it is ‘open-minded about the best way forward.

The consultation closes on 5 January 2018, and the BSB will be holding meetings around the country to listen to the views of all interested parties. 

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