Bar Council welcomes 'level playing field' on public access as LSB approves rule changes

28 March 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has welcomed the Legal Services Board's (LSB) formal approval of rule changes to public access and public access training. The changes will allow public access in areas eligible for legal aid and will also allow barristers under three years' Call to be directly accessible to clients. There are also changes to public access training requirements. 

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"We are very pleased to see these rule changes, which will make the Bar's high quality and cost-effective services more accessible than ever before. It creates a level playing field for clients who are eligible for legal aid but wish to instruct a barrister privately and allows more flexibility for junior barristers as they start to build a practice.

"We believe that a permissive regime is the most suitable way of structuring a modern legal services market.

"The Bar has made strides forward in becoming more directly accessible, including developing BARCO, the Bar Council's new escrow service, which facilitates the financial relationship between the Bar and its clients. Whilst the traditional referral model will remain prevalent, it is now even more straightforward for clients who choose to use public access services.

"As a leading training provider, the Bar Council continues to provide the highest quality public access training and welcomes the opportunity to meet the needs of a wider pool of barristers now eligible to accept instructions."

Speaking on the changes allowing barristers to speak more freely to the media, Maura McGowan QC said:

"It is right that barristers who wish to speak to the media, in appropriate circumstances, should be able to do so. However, despite this change, it is likely, perfectly appropriately, that many barristers will be hesitant to speak publicly about live cases in which they are instructed. We hope that the media will understand andrespect those who do take that position." 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. For further information, please contact the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. 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.