Non-legal staff can be employed by an entity

Non-legal staff can be employed by an entity, however, we will consider the proportion of managers to employees, and of authorised individuals to non-authorised individuals, when we assess your application. We seek to authorise entities that focus on the provision of high-quality legal services, which typically do not require a large number of non-legal staff. A large proportion of non-legal to authorised staff may indicate that a proposed business model falls outside of the scope of our Entity Regulation Policy Statement, which describes what types of entity we are likely to authorise. 

Client money must not be held

BSB entities are subject to the BSB Handbook, which does not allow the holding of client money. However, an entity may use a third-party payment service if it meets the criteria set out in Rules C74 and rC75 of the Handbook. Detailed guidance on these rules, including what constitutes "client money" is given in gC103 - gC112 of the Handbook.

Conduct of litigation may be permitted

An entity has to apply to us for authorisation to conduct litigation, which can be done either as part of the application or at any time afterwards. To approve your application, we need to be satisfied that your entity will have:

  • at least one employee authorised to conduct litigation; and
  • the necessary systems in place to be able to manage cases appropriately.

The "Cab Rank Rule" applies to entities

The Cab Rank Rule obliges a barrister to accept any work in a field in which they profess themselves competent to practise, at a court at which they normally appear and at their usual rates.

The Cab Rank Rule does not apply to public access instructions.  It does apply to referral instructions where a solicitor / professional client seeks to instruct a specific authorised individual within an entity. This applies to any authorised individual in the entity, not just barristers.

Entities can take pupils if authorised to do so

An entity can accept pupils if we have authorised it as an Authorised Education and Training organisation (AETO). Please see the relevant applications forms and guidance.

Providing predominantly non-reserved legal activities might be allowed

An entity that predominantly provides specialist advocacy, litigation services or other expert legal advisory services, is more likely to be authorised than one that does not. 

However, we consider each application on its own merits, and may decide to authorise such a business if it serves our regulatory objectives.

Multi-disciplinary entities are not permitted

A multi-disciplinary practice provides reserved legal activities and other activities traditionally associated with non-legal professionals, eg accounting or financial services.  As per the Entity Regulation Policy Statement, we are unlikely to authorise such an entity, since this could detract from the legal focus of the entity.

The name of your entity should be clear

Entities need to ensure that clients understand who is providing them with legal services. For example, clients must know who is responsible for their case, who they are paying, and who can help them with complaints.

Therefore, while we have no strict rules, you should consider whether the name you are choosing for your entity could be misleading or confusing.

Entities can operate out of a chambers

We have no issue with entities operating out of a chambers, provided there is a contractual agreement between the entity and the chambers, similar to the contractual agreement between a barrister and a chambers.

Entities can provide services direct to the public

Entities and barristers within entities can provide legal services direct to the public provided:

  • we have been informed that the entity intends to provide services to the public; and
  • there is at least one employee or sole manager of the entity who is appropriately trained to do so.

The entity should ensure that:

  • anyone providing public access work is appropriately trained and / or supervised; and
  • consideration as to whether it is appropriate to accept instructions without a professional client is given for every case.

Entities should refer to our public access guidance as an example of good practice in providing services direct to the public.

The practising status of a barrister working through an entity must be valid

A barrister working through an entity can either:

  • provide legal services through the entity only, i.e. as an Employed - Manager (BSB authorised body); or
  • provide legal services in a dual capacity, i.e. through the entity and, in parallel, continue to work in self-employed practice. Please refer to Part 3 Section B.2, Rule S18 of the Handbook which sets out the requirements for compliance.  Importantly you will be required to have insurance arrangements in place for both the entity and your self-employed practice.

The Records Department of the Bar Council will need to be up-dated on any change in practising status.  [email protected] or on 020 7242 0934.