The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has recently updated the public access client care letter. The new version contains reference to the GDPR. Web links in the letter have been updated and the terms and conditions give optional wording for who are authorised to conduct litigation as well as those who are not.
The Code of Conduct requires all barristers doing public access work to send their clients a letter or other written document providing the information required by Rule C125 in the Public Access Rules. Whilst it is not obligatory to use the BSB's model letter, Rule C126 says that writing promptly to your client in the terms of the model letter will, save in exceptional circumstances, amount to compliance with this obligation.
The BSB has also updated the client care letters for use in an intermediary case. All of the new model letters are available in PDF and Word version on the BSB's website at https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/regulatory-requirements/bsb-handbook/code-guidance/
The BSB's Public Access Guidance for Barristers has also been revised. The new version includes reference to the transparency rules which were introduced into the Code of Conduct in July 2019. These rules principally affect the content of barrister's and Chamber's websites. They impose additional requirements to provide information about pricing and services where work is undertaken in the following areas for public access clients:
Employment Tribunal cases;
Financial disputes arising out of divorce;
Immigration appeals (First-tier Tribunal);
Inheritance Act advice;
Licensing applications in relation to business premises;
Personal injury claims;
Summary only motoring offences (advice and representation for defendants);
Full details of these new requirements can be found in Section D6 of the BSB Handbook and the Transparency Standards Guidance available on the BSB website.
It is a Code of Conduct requirement to have regard to the guidance published by the BSB when doing public access work (Rule C124).
As well as updating its Guidance for Barristers the BSB has issued a new version of its Public Access Guidance for Lay Clients. The new transparency rules require Chambers doing public access work to have a link to the Guidance for Lay Clients on their websites.
Finally minor changes have been made to the BSB's Conducting Litigation Guidance. Copies of all the new guidance documents can be found on the Code Guidance page of the BSB's website:
Andrew Granville Stafford is a member of the Bar Council and its Ethics Committee and Chair of the Bar Council's Direct Access Panel.
Barristers who encounter issues or matters which may be of general interest to public access barristers are asked to bring these to the attention of the Direct Access Panel by emailing Andrew on firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah Richardson at the Bar Council on Sarah Richardson on SRichardson@BarCouncil.org.uk