The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has launched a consultation on its proposed new rules to improve transparency standards for clients of the Bar.
After a period of consultation last year in response to the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA's) market study of legal services, the BSB published its revised approach to improving transparency for consumers of barristers' services in February 2018. The new transparency standards 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. Between November 2017 and February 2018, the regulator ran a pilot scheme with nine chambers, entities and sole practitioners to test some suggested minimum disclosure requirements in order to help it finalise its rules. An evaluation report of the pilot is published alongside the consultation launch and a new research report commissioned by the BSB to explore how consumers make decisions when searching for barristers, and to test how consumers respond to different methods of presenting price and service information.
BSB Director General, Dr Vanessa Davies said ‘we have consulted extensively about our response to the CMA's recommendations on transparency. Following the consultation, a further period of research and a pilot scheme with a group of barristers' chambers and other organisations, we are confident that the new rules to improve transparency standards adequately reflect the often highly complex nature of barristers' work. The purpose of this consultation is to make sure that the way we have drafted the new rules is clear, and that the guidance will help the Bar to comply with the new rules. We would very much like to hear from anybody who has a view on this.’ Following the completion of this consultation period and approval by the Legal Services Board (LSB), these rules will come into force by May 2019. To ensure compliance with the transparency rules, the BSB will undertake spot-checking from January 2020. The consultation closes on Friday 14 December 2018 at 5pm., and the full document can be found here.