New legal services businesses now being authorised by regulator

09 Apr, 2015

  • The Bar Standards Board is now authorising businesses
  • First 15 BSB-regulated “entities” soon to provide legal services to clients
  • Members of the Bar urged to embrace new business models in a time of flux

The barristers’ regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has today approved 15 new businesses as it begins authorising BSB-regulated entities – companies or partnerships that provide advocacy, litigation, and expert legal advice services.

Since it started accepting applications at the beginning of 2015 the regulator has received 90 expressions of interest from those wishing to set up BSB-regulated entities and is now issuing authorisation decisions.

Director of Supervision for the BSB, Oliver Hanmer, said: “Our aim is to provide those wanting to specialise in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice with a specific and focussed regime and today this becomes a reality. We know from our conversations with members of the Bar that there is real enthusiasm for entities regulated by us. I’m sure these 15 are just the beginning.

“Against what is for many a backdrop of uncertainty and change, we hope this will give barristers and other lawyers more freedom to react to changes in the market and to devise new ways of working so as to remain competitive and best serve their clients. I would urge those thinking of applying or interested in finding out more to get in touch with us.”

An entity authorised by the BSB has 21 days from when it receives its authorisation in which to show the regulator evidence that it has appropriate insurance arranged, without which it cannot provide legal services. Last month the BSB confirmed the minimum level of cover each entity is expected to have is £500,000 per claim. However, every entity will be obliged to ensure they have adequate insurance for the nature of their practice (which may be more than the minimum) so as to protect their clients in the event of something going wrong.

From today barristers and other advocacy-focussed lawyers will be better placed to pool resources and share the risks of investing in their own business. Barristers can share ownership of entities with other lawyers so that they can adapt and offer clients a wider range of services.

The BSB believes that becoming a regulator of entities will help encourage new advocacy-focussed business models to emerge and thrive, which in turn will broaden client choice.

The BSB is not authorising Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) – entities with non-lawyer owners and managers – but will soon apply separately to the Legal Services Board to become a licensing authority of ABSs.

Interested in setting up a BSB-regulated entity? Please get in touch via 0207 092 6801 or entityregulation@barstandardsboard.org.uk. For more information click here.

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1 Comment

  1. April 26, 2015

    and who picks up the tab when it all goes wrong?

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