BSB calls for further research on ABS

The Bar’s regulatory body has said it would be “wrong” for it to permit barristers to enter into Alternative Business Structures (“ABS”) without further research.

Responding to the Legal Services Board’s (“LSB”) discussion paper on developing a regulatory regime for ABS, Wider access, better value, strong protection, the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”) called for more evidence about what sort of market is likely to be created, and its impact on the consumers of legal services.

The BSB is concerned that changes to the business structures through which barristers provide services could undermine regulatory objectives. It has commissioned independent research into the effects of allowing barristers to practise as ABS managers, and will make its decision on regulation in November.

In a sharp retort, however, a LSB spokesperson said: “It’s no longer the time to continue having sterile debates about ‘if’.
“Debate around the need to remove the anti-competitive elements of the Bar’s regulatory regime has been ongoing for at least a decade. We will continue to work directly with approved regulators, with the numerous lawyers who speak to us directly, and with consumers, on the questions surrounding regulatory reform, including the removal of unnecessary restrictions on the provision of legal services.”