Bar Council responds to latest LSB report on legal services market

4 July 2016

Responding to the Legal Services Board's latest report Evaluation: Changes in the legal services market 2006/07 - 2014/15 Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said: "The Legal Services Board's report on changes in the legal services market contains some mixed messages. On the positive side, there has been a 33 per cent increase in UK-wide net exports of legal services between 2007 and 2014 and legal services turnover has gone from a post crisis low of £27bn in 2009 to an all-time high of £32bn in 2015. We know the Bar is a key contributor to this growth. In 2014, over 10 per cent of the profession received instructions from overseas clients and the Bar's international earnings grew by 9 per cent. Significantly, 30 per cent of the overall increase in the self-employed Bar's earnings in 2014 came from international work.

"The LSB have also identified innovations in the sector, such as Public/Direct Access provided by barristers which is providing consumers with more choice. The Bar Council's Direct Access Portal is helping to give consumers a better deal. Direct access is expected to grow, although it is anticipated that the profession will remain a predominantly referral profession. 

"However, the LSB report does raise some concerns, notably the rise of DIY justice. The growth in the number of people who are attempting to handle often complex legal problems on their own is a particular cause for concern. The rise in court fees and the significant cuts to legal aid have put many litigants in the difficult position where they feel unable to access justice through the Courts, or through solicitors or barristers with the appropriate expertise to help them. 

"The report also fails to acknowledge the referral Bar, which continues to make up most of the Bar's work, and which plays a central role in our justice system. The report also fails to highlight the difference between barristers and other legal service providers, such as solicitors. Given the high volume of work carried out by barristers through the referral model, the report leaves a gap in its account of the legal services market today." 

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Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and 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