The rule changes form part of the new Handbook, submitted to the Legal Services Board for approval in May. The Handbook seeks to create a more “fluid model” of regulation which would allow barristers to develop “innovative ways of delivering legal services”. In a departure from the current Code, it sets out a list of key outcomes – explaining what the Rules are designed to achieve and helping the regulator assess a potential breach.

Lifting the litigation ban, the BSB said, would increase consumer choice by encouraging the growth of “one-stop-shops” and lower cost legal services to be provided. Barristers will also be able to pool risk and resources, once rules preventing self-employed barristers from sharing premises and forming associations with non-barristers are removed.

The cab rank rule and the ban on referral fees are retained. It also sets out new regulatory powers for the BSB to disqualify non-authorised employees from working for BSB-authorised individuals or businesses. The core duties will also apply to unregistered barristers providing legal services and the maximum fine for breaching the rules will be increased from £300 to £1,000. Barristers will be required to self-report and report others only in relation to “serious misconduct”.

Proposals requiring barristers to withdraw from cases where a client refuses to reveal previous convictions to the court were dropped and replaced with a general duty not to mislead the court, following criticisim from the majority of the 38 respondents to the consultation, which ran from March to June 2012.

The BSB is also applying to the LSB to regulate non-ABS entities, ie, barrister-only entities (BoEs) and legal disciplinary partnerships (LDPs), which it hopes to be able to do from January 2014, and to become a licensing authority for ABS entities later in 2014. At present, only the Solicitors Regulation Authority and  Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) can regulate LDPs. A programme of roadshows and training will start in September to ensure that the Bar is familiar with the major changes before launch.