19 March 2019

Public access rule changes

Please see this page for further details about the new training regime.

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has approved the removal of two rules around public access work. The changes will allow barristers to take instructions from clients who may be eligible for public funding but have decided not to take up this option. In addition, barristers with fewer than three years' practising experience will be able to take on public access cases once they have undertaken the required training.

The prohibition on accepting cases that may be eligible for legal aid was removed on 1 April 2013. Revised guidance for barristers and clients, together with model client care letters are available here:  https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/bsb-handbook/code-guidance/

The prohibition on barristers with fewer than three years' practising experience undertaking public access will also be removed with the introduction of a new training regime, which was put in place in autumn 2013. From this point, any barrister with fewer than three years' practising experience must have completed the necessary training and assessments. In addition they must:

• have access to a qualified person who can provide them with guidance and advice;
• seek feedback from their public access clients on the service provided;
• maintain a log of public access cases they have dealt with, including any issues or problems that have arisen and make this log available, on request, to the BSB for review.

The changes to the public access rules introduce new training requirements for all barristers who wish to undertake public access training. Once the new training regime is in place, more experienced barristers who have already completed the existing training will have 24 months to either undertake additional training, required by the BSB, or apply for a waiver. In the meantime, barristers currently undertaking public access work can continue to do so.