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BSB to revise rules relating to authorisation to practise and public access work following consultations

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has approved a number of rule changes for barristers renewing their practising certificates and for those doing public access work following recent consultations.

The rule changes regarding authorisation to practise will:

  • require barristers to provide information on their practice areas, including any public access work, and the percentage of income they derive from each area;
  • ensure compliance with new Money Laundering Regulations;
  • oblige barristers who work in the Youth Courts to register the fact; and
  • make it compulsory for barristers to provide a unique email address.

The new rules, which will be submitted to the Legal Services Board for approval in November, state that these declarations will need to be made when barristers apply for or renew their practising certificate. Subject to the LSB’s approval, it is hoped that the new rules will be in place by February 2018.

These new rules will:

  • improve the BSB’s understanding of the work of barristers, thereby helping them to target regulation more effectively;
  • ensure that the BSB and barristers comply with new Money Laundering Regulations;
  • allow the BSB to identify barristers who are working in the Youth Court and to promote standards in those proceedings; and
  • help the BSB to communicate with barristers more securely and effectively.

A diverse selection of stakeholders responded to the consultations that have informed these decisions, including the Bar Council, individual barristers, organisations and individuals connected with the Youth Justice System.

The regulator has also announced changes to the Public and Licensed Access Rules, following a positive response to the recent consultation on the subject. Public access enables members of the public to go direct to a barrister who has undertaken additional training. Licensed access enables some specialist or more experienced clients to instruct any barrister directly. The regulator will:

  • continue not to apply the ‘cab rank’ rule to public and licensed access cases, as extending the rule to these cases could impact access to justice;
  • remove the requirement for barristers who are of less than three years’ standing to maintain a Public Access log;
  • make a range of simplifications to make the Public and Licensed Access Rules less prescriptive and more proportionate; and
  • implement a number of amendments to the Licensed Access Rules, which permit certain expert clients to instruct barristers who have not undertaken public access training directly.

The BSB’s Director of Strategy & Policy Ewen MacLeod said: “We are very grateful to all those who responded to our recent consultations and the Board has taken all the views expressed into account. The new rules regarding authorisation to practise will enable us to improve our regulation of barristers. We are particularly keen to highlight the important role of those practising in our Youth Courts and the skills necessary for this kind of work.  Our changes to the public and licensed access rules will also further support those clients who instruct the Bar directly.”