The Bar Council is calling on the Government to extend the ban on personal injury referral fees to cases in other areas of law.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced in September that it will ban referral fees in personal injury cases, following a high-profile campaign waged by the Bar Council and other lawyers’ groups. Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said referral fees pushed up insurance premiums, and were the symptom of “too much money sloshing through the system”.
In May, the Legal Services Board rejected an outright ban - a move that provoked strong criticism from the Bar Council and other sections of the legal profession.
Peter Lodder QC, the chair of the Bar, welcomed the MoJ’s move but called for the scope of the ban to be extended.
“For a long time, and repeatedly, the Bar has called for referral fees to be outlawed, not just in personal injury cases, but in all cases, privately or publicly funded,” he said.
“They are bribes and add an unnecessary cost to litigation. They have no place in a fair and open justice system.
“We are also pleased to see the government is acting on this issue in the public interest, which the Legal Services Board palpably failed to do when presented with the opportunity to earlier this year.”
An amendment introducing the ban will be added to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, and the ban could be in force by next Easter.
Under the Bar Standards Board code of conduct, barristers are prohibited from making or receiving payments in order to obtain work.