The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published a new consultation on potential changes to the rules governing the Public and Licensed Access schemes for barristers.
These schemes allow members of the public and other lay clients to instruct barristers directly without first instructing a solicitor or other intermediary.
The BSB’s new consultation follows the regulator’s recent review of the Public and Licensed Access schemes. The review found that although both schemes are working well and provide a valuable service, improvements to the rules governing the schemes could result in a better service for clients and deliver greater access to justice for the wider public.
The regulator’s latest consultation proposes a number of recommendations including:
- Simplifying the existing rules – making them less prescriptive and more proportionate;
- The continuation of the current approach, where Public and Licensed Access work is not subject to the “cab-rank rule”. This follows a “first principles” review of current arrangements; and
- The possibility of changing the Scope of Practice Rules to allow some charities and businesses to instruct barristers without having to use the Public or Licensed Access schemes.
BSB Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: “Our review found that the Public and Licensed Access schemes work well. The changes we are proposing in our consultation paper are therefore designed to improve the schemes by promoting access, ensuring that high standards of service are maintained and increasing flexibility. For example, by removing the list of professional bodies whose members can instruct barristers through the Licensed Access scheme from the rules, and publishing the list as guidance instead, we can more easily update the list of professionals who can instruct barristers under the scheme. The Public and Licensed Access schemes for barristers perform an important role in widening access to justice. We urge barristers, particularly the public access Bar, and clients instructing barristers using these schemes, to tell us their views of our proposed rule changes.”
The consultation closes at 5pm on Tuesday, 26 September 2017.