The barristers’ regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has revealed the names of the 15 new businesses that have been authorised as entities.
The body began accepting applications for barristers to become entities in January. The new BSB-regulated businesses allow for the creation of “advocacy-focused” partnerships between barristers and solicitors.
Entities are “companies or partnerships that provide advocacy, litigation, and expert legal advice services”, explained a BSB statement.
“Previously, the BSB only regulated individual barristers. The BSB is now able to regulate businesses owned and managed by barristers and other lawyers.”
Just one QC, Simon Gorton QC, is among the list of barristers now set up as an entity. Gorton is head of chambers at Atlantic Chambers in Liverpool and is a door tenant at Old Square Chambers.
Since the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has been authorising alternative business structures (ABS) that allow partnerships between solicitors and barristers.
The BSB confirmed it was not currently authorising barristers to set up ABSs, which allow for non-lawyer managers and owners, but said it intended to apply to the Legal Services Board to become an ABS licensing authority.
It is understood such a move would put it in direct regulatory competition with the SRA.
The BSB said it received 90 expressions of interest in January from individuals and groups wishing to set up BSB-regulated entities. It approved 15 of the businesses on 8 April.
An entity has 21 days from receiving authorisation to show the regulator evidence it has appropriate insurance arrangements in place, without which it cannot provide legal services. The minimum level of cover each entity is expected to have is £500,000 per claim.
So far 13 of the 15 approved businesses have submitted proper insurance arrangements. The full list of the 13 entities, which can start providing legal services to clients straight away, is below.
“From today barristers and other advocacy-focussed lawyers will be better placed to pool resources and share the risks of investing in their own business. Barristers can share ownership of entities with other lawyers so that they can adapt and offer clients a wider range of services,” read a statement.
BSB director of supervision Oliver Hanmer said the body’s aim was to “provide those wanting to specialise in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice with a specific and focussed regime” adding that this is now a “reality”.
“We know from our conversations with members of the bar that there is real enthusiasm for entities regulated by us. I’m sure these 15 are just the beginning,” Hanmer added.
However the implementation of entities has been met with criticism by some. One source close to the bar said entities were “a simple way for barristers to lower the amount of tax they pay”.
Indeed, though practising as an incorporated entity will not necessarily reduce the tax burden on barristers, the differing tax rates that apply to companies means becoming an entity could generate significant tax savings for practitioners.
The BSB is continuing to take applications for entities and will approve them on a case-by-case basis, said a spokesperson.
The Lawyer also understands the list of entities will be updated as new businesses are approved in an online format similar to the barristers’ register.
The entities in full, (plus manager’s name):
Ashley Murray Limited, Ashley Murray
Beaumont Legal Services Limited (trading as Windsor Chambers/Marc Beaumont), Marc Beaumont
Bridgewater Legal Limited, William McCarthy
CSGW Limited, Wayne Lord
Denise Breen-Lawton Limited, Denise Breen-Lawton
Elderflower Solutions Limited, Mark Johnson
Harris Bains Limited, Dapinderpaul Singh
Paul Dipre (Barrister) Limited, Paul Dipre
Richard O’Sullivan Limited, Richard O’Sullivan
Robert Smith (Barrister) Limited, Robert Smith
Tom Russell, Tom Russell
Westminster Chambers Limited, Ahmed Malik
SG QC Limited, Simon Gorton QC