02 December 2013

BSB produces additional clarification in relation to Public Access rules and foreign work

The BSB has produced additional guidance for Public Access barristers instructed directly by lay foreign clients or lay clients in England and Wales for whom they are doing foreign work. Under the new Handbook, the Public Access rules will apply in relation to these clients for the first time. The guidance states

"Any barristers who accepted instructions direct from a lay foreign client or a lay client in England and Wales in relation to foreign work prior to the new Handbook coming into force can continue to act for their client when the new Handbook comes into force, even if they have not completed the public access training, and provided this is in the client's best interests. However, we would advise any affected barristers to either complete the public access training or seek a waiver as soon as possible.

"Any barristers accepting instructions direct from a lay client for foreign work from January 2014 onwards will be required to either complete the public access training or seek a waiver. For the avoidance of doubt, this does not apply to cases where the instructions come from a 'foreign lawyer' as defined in the Handbook"

Prior to the introduction of the new Handbook, which is enforceable from 2014, t he BSB widened the Public Access scheme to include clients who might be entitled to legal aid and to allow barristers of less than three year's standing to do public access work. In advance of this rule change, the training requirements were overhauled. Course content has been enhanced and an element of formal assessment has been introduced. In addition, Public Access barristers with less than three year's practising experience now need to keep a log of cases as an aid to their learning. The BSB may request to see the log as part of its supervision activities.

Those who have already taken the training will either have to do a top up course or apply for a waiver within 24 months of the new training being made available.