25 November 2017

BSB Handbook Explained: independence and conflicts of interest

Core Duty 4 of the BSB Handbook requires that barristers must maintain their independence. Examples of how you may be seen as compromising your independence include:

  • Paying or receiving referral fees (which are prohibited by Rule C10);
  • Giving or receiving of entertainment at a disproportionate level;
  • Expressing a personal opinion in the media in relation to any future or current

proceedings in which you are briefed. Further guidance on this is available on our website.

Rule C21.10 requires that you must not accept instructions to act if there is a real prospect that you are not going to be able to maintain your independence.

Rules C21.2, .3 and .4 also require that you must not accept instructions to act if:

  • there is a conflict of interest between your own personal interests and the interests of the prospective client in respect of the particular matter; or

 

  • there is a conflict of interest between the prospective client and one or more of your former or existing clients in respect of the particular matter. The exception would be if all of the clients who have an interest in the particular matter give their informed consent to you acting in such circumstances.