Bar regulator gives green light to 15 unnamed lawyer-owned entities

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) approved 15 new businesses as it entered the world of entity regulation.


The move follows the Legal Services Board’s (LSB) approval for the regulator’s application to regulate barrister and advocacy-focused entities in December.

Since it started accepting applications at the beginning of 2015, the BSB said it has received 90 expressions of interest from those wishing to set up BSB-regulated entities.

It cannot name the tranche of 15 newly authorised businesses until they have insurance in place, which they have 21 days from the date they received authorisation to do.

Each entity must have a minimum level of cover of £500,000 per claim, but will be obliged to ensure they have adequate insurance for the nature of their practice.

The move enables barristers and other lawyers to combine forces and share the ownership of their businesses so that they can provide a wider range of services to their clients.

The BSB said it believes that becoming a regulator of entities will help encourage the emergence of new advocacy-focused business models.

Director of Supervision for the BSB, Oliver Hanmer, said: “Our aim is to provide those wanting to specialise in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice with a specific and focused regime.

“We know from our conversations with members of the Bar that there is real enthusiasm for entities regulated by us. I’m sure these 15 are just the beginning.”

He said: “Against what is for many a backdrop of uncertainty and change, we hope this will give barristers and other lawyers more freedom to react to changes in the market and to devise new ways of working so as to remain competitive and best serve their clients.”

The next step is for the BSB to become a licensing authority for alternative business structures, allowing it to regulate businesses that include non-lawyer owners and investment. It is due to submit an application to the LSB shortly.

 In a move that will antagonise some, the BSB has asked that Queen’s Counsel Appointments, which runs the annual Silk application process, consider developing a system of reaccrediting criminal Silks.

It follows the regulator’s announcement in January that it would explore other ways to protect the public from poor standards of advocacy, while the legal challenge to the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates continues.

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Lumsdon and Others is awaited following a hearing in March.

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