Bar Council's BARCO Service open for business as FSA grants approval

10 January 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has announced that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has granted regulatory approval under the Payment Services Regulations for its unique new service, BARCO.

The FSA's approval paves the way for BARCO's next phase involving a limited number of chambers, followed by full roll-out in spring 2013. Chambers from across the country and a range of practice areas will take part, including: 

  • 2 Bedford Row
  • 33 Chancery Lane
  • Erskine Chambers
  • 39 Essex Street
  • St. Johns Buildings, Manchester
  • St. Johns Chambers, Bristol
  • Outer Temple Chambers
  • 37 Park Square, Leeds
  • St Philips, Birmingham

BARCO provides a straightforward, easily accessible, client-focused facility, whilst maintaining the Bar's high quality and cost-effective services.

BARCO is a third party company, owned and operated by the Bar Council. It provides an escrow service to receive funds from clients which are required in relation to on-going legal services for legal fees, alternative dispute resolution costs, disbursements and settlements.

Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the BARCO Committee and immediate past Chairman of the Bar, said:

"I am delighted that the FSA has granted approval to BARCO. We believe that it will offer an imaginative and unique solution for clients all over the world, making it easier than ever before to work with the Bar, whilst maintaining the Bar's high quality and cost-effective services.

"We look forward to sharing more details about the progress of the first phase in due course."

 ENDS

 Notes to editors:

 1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or  Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. More information on BARCO is available at: www.barcouncil.org.uk/for-the-bar/barco/

3. BARCO will be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and will comply with the regulatory obligations arising from the Payment Services Regulations 2009. All funds are to be held in a ring-fenced account with Barclays Bank. BARCO remains subject to any approval process arising from the new Bar Standards Board (BSB) Handbook.

4. The Member Services Department of the Bar Council has designed and created BARCO. The Bar Council provides a wide range of benefits to members of the Bar through the Member Services Department, including a portfolio of tailored products and services, specialised training courses and sector conferences.

5. BARCO is a third party escrow account, which receives money from clients under a contractual arrangement relating to the on-going provision of legal services. The payment of funds from the escrow account is determined by this agreement, allowing barristers to offer a full range of legal services without breaching the Code of Conduct and handling client money themselves, making it easier than ever to work with the Bar.

6. BARCO delivers a simple and secure system, operated through one of the world's leading financial institutions, for handling client payments and provides flexibility and adaptability, enabling the Bar to offer even better value competitive legal services.

7. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.