Bar faces fundamental change in provision of legal services

Barristers have been given the go-ahead to supply legal services within new business structures. On 20 November the Bar Standards Board (“BSB” ) approved the creation of legal disciplinary practices (“LDP”) and, in principle, barrister-only partnerships (“BoP”). Barristers will be free to become managers of LDPs, regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, without having to requalify as solicitors. The decision applies only in principle to LDPs which include up to 25 per cent non-lawyer managers.

The BSB deferred making any decision on allowing members of the Bar to work in alternative business structures (“ABS”), until the effects of the transitional LDP regime have been assessed. Further consultation will take place next year. Commenting on the announcements the Chairman of the BSB, Baroness Deech, said: “The Board’s decision today is of considerable signifi - cance for the future of legal services provision in England and Wales. It represents the culmination of more than two years’ careful consideration of the issues, guided by the overriding concern to regulate in the public interest.”

The Bar Council welcomed the decision. The Chairman elect of the Bar, Nicholas Green QC, said: “The BSB’s decisions represent an historic moment for the Bar. Th e BSB has spent an enormous amount of time considering possible changes in the structure of legal practice in order to address liberalisation of the legal services market. Th e care with which they have investigated the issues refl ects
the importance of the BSB’s decisions.”