New Terms of Engagement for barristers

The new contractual terms and associated Code of Conduct amendments will take effect on the 31 January 2013. Initially, it was intended for the change to be implemented on the 31 October 2012, but to enable chambers more time to make the necessary adjustments, the Bar Standards Board agreed to the Bar Council’s request of a further three months.


Chambers and barristers will need to decide as a matter of urgency what changes they may wish to make to their terms of engagement and to their procedures. In addition, current clients should be advised of any change in the normal terms of business.

In the next few weeks, the Bar Council will be publishing a Guide. In addition, the Bar Council will, for barristers and clerks, be holding Q&A sessions and training courses, details of which will be circulated in due course, and will be published on the Bar Council’s website.

On the 31 January 2013, the following changes will take place:

1. The commonly used Terms of Work, on which barristers offer their services to solicitors, and the Withdrawal of Credit scheme will be abolished.

2. The Terms of Work will be replaced in the Code by the ’Standard Conditions of Contract for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012‘ and the Withdrawal of Credit List will be replaced by an advisory ’List of Defaulting Solicitors and other Authorised Persons‘ (the “advisory List”).

3. The Cab Rank Rule will be amended so that, instead of applying to the Terms of Work referred in point 1 above, it will apply to the new Standard Conditions of Contract and to the terms which the barrister or his chambers have published as the barrister’s standard terms. The usual exceptions to Cab Rank Rule will continue to apply; e.g. not being available, being professionally embarrassed. In addition, a barrister will have the right (but not the obligation) to refuse instructions on credit from solicitors or other instructing Authorised Persons named on that advisory List if he/she so wishes.

4. The new Standard Conditions of Contract have been drawn up so that they apply to solicitors and all ’Authorised Persons‘, which here refers only to persons/bodies authorised by the Law Society/Solicitors Regulation Authority under paragraph 18(1) (a) of the Legal Services Act 2007.

5. The new Standard Conditions will NOT operate as default terms and barristers are still free in any individual case to agree (subject of course to the Bar Code of Conduct obligations) different terms or, if they wish, no terms, or, amend the new Standard Conditions of Contract.

6. The List of Defaulting Solicitors and other Authorised Persons will be similar to the present Withdrawal of Credit Scheme, except that complaints to the Bar Council can only be made in respect of non-payment of joint tribunal awards, where judgment has been given for unpaid fees arising from work carried out under the new Standard Conditions of Contract, or where barristers are unpaid in respect of publicly funded work. Under transitional arrangements, the solicitors named in the Withdrawal of Credit List will be transferred to the List of Defaulting Solicitors and complaints can continue to be made to the Bar Council in respect of work that had been carried out under the Terms of Work/Withdrawal of Credit Scheme.

The new Standard Conditions and changes to the Code of Conduct can be found on the Bar Council’s website under http://bit.ly/R8wFPu.

Please do not hesitate to contact Janice Marshall on: JMarshall@BarCouncil.org.uk / 020 7611 1375 if you have any queries or require further information.

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