21 August 2019

New transparency rules agreed for the Bar

At our Board meeting at the end of January, we agreed new rules to improve transparency standards for barristers' clients. Subject to Legal Services Board (LSB) approval, the new rules will come into force in May 2019, with compliance spot-checking by the regulator starting from 2020.

Responding to Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recommendations to introduce new requirements in this area, we consulted on a draft set of rules during the autumn.  

The new transparency standards are designed to improve the information available to the public before they engage the services of a barrister. They relate to information about the areas of law in which barristers practise, the legal services provided by barristers, what those services cost, and a client's right to redress.

Having carefully considered responses to our recent consultation from bodies representing both barristers and consumers, we agreed a number of changes to the draft rules intended to provide greater clarity for those having to comply with them. In addition, following a number of comments by specialist Bar associations, we have revised our requirements for certain services provided by Public Access barristers to be subject to additional price transparency rules.

We are confident that, subject to final approval by the LSB, these new rules will improve the information available to the public to allow them to engage the right barrister for their circumstances, whilst not burdening the profession with unnecessary new requirements. We will keep the new requirements under review. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our work in this area by sharing their views on these matters and we look forward to working closely with the profession to implement the new rules.

We plan to issue detailed guidance for the profession before the rules come into force.

The new draft rules are available here.