Nick Avis outlines the possible benefits and drawbacks to barristers of practising through a limited company
There has been a lot of discussion around the future of the Bar and the changes that have emanated from the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA 2007). Some aspects of these changes are dependent on the regulation of entities offering certain legal services. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) recently issued a further consultation document on the subject of entity regulation. The consultation closed on 29 June. It is understood that the BSB intends to put structures in place so that it can regulate:
Dan Jones and Dominic Thomas from criminal law set, Artesian Law, explain why they have chosen to go down the ABS route
As six members of a traditional criminal set – of between 12 and 34 years of call – it became increasingly clear to us that the chambers structure is, in many respects, out-dated, uncompromising and struggling to cope with the challenges that face us all in practice as members of the self-employed Bar. We didn’t want to get left behind as we waited for a conservative management committee, leading a large group of uncertain barristers, each with a vote as to the way forward, to catch up with events.
In a two part feature for Counsel, John Newth reviews the special tax provisions that affect practising barristers.
The taxation of barristers comes within the definition of ‘a specialised profession’ as far as UK taxation is involved. This article sets out the distinctive statutory and practical considerations that must be born in mind when dealing with the taxation affairs of individual barristers.
End of the cash basis
The cash basis of preparing barristers’ accounts came to an end when section 42, FA 1998 was enacted, requiring accounts to be prepared ‘on a true and fair basis’. Reference to this basis was replaced by section 101(5), FA 2002 which required accounts to be prepared ‘in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice (GAAP)’. See also the HMRC Business Income Manual at BIM 74000- BIM 74015.
The Bar Standards Board has signed a cross-profession agreement to share data with regulators from the legal, accountancy, financial and property sectors so that Alternative Business Structures (ABS) only have to deal with one regulator.
Shape the future or become the past
The Chairman of the Bar, Peter Lodder QC, told Bar Conference delegates that they needed to shape the future or risk becoming the past in a lively opening plenary session.
The Chair of the 26th Annual Bar Conference, Taryn Lee, kicked off proceedings (for the second year at London’s Hilton Metropole Hotel), by introducing the day’s theme - ‘Shaping the future: a modern Bar for a modern market’. She encouraged the record 650 plus in attendance to focus on the strengths of the profession as they consider developing their practices. She outlined the format for the day, including encouraging modern-minded technophiles to tweet throughout the conference, which proved particularly popular. It also meant those not attending could keep track of what was going on, whether in plenary sessions or in workshops. Barristers, journalists, sponsors, and even humble PR professionals were getting in on the act. The Conference Chair even made time for a tweet or two.
Giles Murphy and Rachel Stone suggest how to improve financial discipline and create a clear human resources policy within chambers. In any professional services business, having good people and sufficient cash are pre-requisites. However, in many chambers, both often receive insufficient attention. So what should you be doing to reduce risk and maximize the opportunity from both?
As a minimum, the management team should receive a set of regular management accounts on at least a monthly basis. The management accounts need to be accurate, but more crucially, they need to be timely. It is much better to have a prompt set of management accounts, say within 10 days of the month end that incorporate some estimated figures, than to wait several months for precise data which is then out of date.
Adam Sampson, Chief Legal Ombudsman, looks at the impact of Alternative Business Structures on the Bar itself and its reputation, and at whether it is ever appropriate to name a lawyer involved in a complaint.
I know from the barristers I talk to that the term “Alternative Business Structures” is not exactly on the tip of every counsel’s tongue. So few of you I suspect have been following the fall-out from the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s recent announcement that the October deadline for their launch was not going to be met. But as with many of the changes the profession is facing, what is happening in one area of the profession potentially has major implications for their colleagues elsewhere.
In April 2011 we decided that barristers should be permitted to practice as managers or employees of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) regulated by other Approved Regulators when Part 5 of the Legal Services Act 2007 comes into force.
CEO and Head of Clerking Services Devereux
Devereux Chambers covers the professional markets in insurance and reinsurance, employment law, tax, finance, sports, energy, telecommunications and education. It has a large and successful team advising and representing those engaged in cases involving personal injury, clinical negligence and health and safety and offers arbitration and mediation services.
14 Gray’s Inn Square
14 Gray’s Inn Square is predominantly a family law set with a strong reputation for representation in all aspects of family law, dealing with both children and financial proceedings. The set also undertakes work in civil law and administrative law proceedings including education, housing, immigration and mental health.
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