Barristers will be allowed to refuse work where there is an “unacceptable” risk that they will not be paid by solicitors, under proposed changes to the cab rank rule.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) said it hoped to have applied to the Legal Services Board (LSB) for approval by the end of July.
If granted, the change will dispense with the list of defaulting solicitors – from whom barristers are permitted to decline work.
Guidance from the regulator stated that barristers will be expected to consider alternatives, such as obtaining payment in advance or using a third party payment service, before refusing to take on a case.
The change follows a review conducted somewhat late in the day by the BSB, at the behest of the uber-regulator, the LSB, after the introduction of standard contractual terms between barristers and solicitors in 2013.
The BSB undertook to review the regime by July 2014, after an LSB investigation found that the Bar Council had interfered with the regulator’s independence in relation to the contract and cab rank changes.
Last month, following a “full and thorough” review “undertaken from first principles”, the BSB said it had reached a decision “entirely independent of the Bar and its representative bodies” that retention of the reference to the standard contractual terms within the cab rank rule was necessary, in the public interest.