The Bar Council has closed down its escrow facility due to lack of use by barristers and competition from providers.

Launched five years ago, Barco was designed to help barristers compete on a level playing field with solicitors by allowing them to hold client money. Client funds were held in a Barclays account, with barristers paying an administration fee and any interest returned to clients.

But the Bar Council said that the income from fees and charges from the scheme did not match the costs and expenditure incurred in delivering the service.

It identified two commercial schemes, Shieldpay and Transpact, which have been reviewed for compliance by the Bar Council’s Ethics Committee as particularly ‘suitable escrow providers for the self-employed Bar’.