Professors John Flood (University of Westminster) and Morton Hviid (University of East Anglia) were asked to carry out a review analysing the impact on the market of paragraphs 601-610 of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) code.

“While the Bar is captivated by the rule and has promoted it as a shibboleth, we have no evidence as to its efficacy nor that it is understood within the legal marketplace,” was the conclusion of The Cab Rank Rule: Its Meaning and Purpose in the New Legal Services Market. “By all means the Bar can espouse it as a laudable principle, but it should not pretend that the rule is significant,” it added.

Instead, the authors recommend a rule similar to that promulgated by the New York State Bar (Statement of Client Rights number 10): “You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.”

The LSB has invited views on the report’s analysis. The Bar Council is preparing a response, and the BSB and senior judiciary are also expected to express a strong view.