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Barristers to be able to conduct litigation from January 2014

Self-employed barristers will be able to apply for an extension to their practising certificate to conduct litigation from January 2014, the Bar Standards Board has said.

This comes after the Legal Services Board approved the new BSB Code of Conduct for barristers.

On the conduct of litigation, the BSB said: “This will relieve clients approaching public access barristers of the task of having to act as a self-representing litigant and conducting the administrative tasks themselves or going through a solicitor.”

Other major changes will see:

  • Removal of previous rules preventing self-employed barristers from sharing premises and forming associations with non-barristers. This will allow barristers to pool together risks and resources, the BSB said;
  • Regulated persons will be required to self-report and report others in relation to “serious misconduct”;
  • The Core Duties – the core elements of professional conduct – will apply to all barristers, “including unregistered barristers when they are providing legal services”.

The Board said new approaches to both enforcement and supervision would underpin the Handbook and be introduced in the New Year.

Disciplinary action will be reserved for more serious ‘professional misconduct’ breaches, where administrative sanctions would not be severe enough or where it is in the public interest.

Administrative sanctions are to be extended to cover breaches of any rule which do not amount to ‘professional misconduct’.

Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the Bar Standards Board, said: “Superfluous rules have been stripped away and others modernised. The Handbook’s approach is less prescriptive, with more focus and guidance on what the outcome of a rule should be, rather than attempting to define how a barrister should act in every situation.

“As well as offering greater clarity there are also new measures that will empower barristers to change their business models in line with consumer need.”

Baroness Deech added: “Through developing a risk-based approach to supervision we will be better placed to work with the profession to prevent non-compliance from materialising in the first place or to avoid a recurrence of less serious non-compliance.

“This will help us to ensure that enforcement action is reserved for the most serious cases of non-compliance which could have considerable consequences for the client and the public interest.”

A new electronic version of the Handbook will be available to download from the BSB website after the summer.

 

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