A number of chambers have signed up to the new Barco initiative, which has now been approved by the FSA.
The service, introduced by the Bar Council, is a secure third-party holding escrow account, which is designed to make direct access to the bar easier.
Existing rules under the code of conduct prevent barristers from handling client money themselves; traditionally their fees have been paid via instructing solicitors.
The Barco system will enable wider direct access to the bar by providing an easier route for payments for ongoing legal fees, alternative dispute resolution costs, disbursements and settlements (18 July 2012). It can also be used through the traditional referral model. The funds will be held in a ring-fenced Barclays account.
Previous Bar Council chairman Michael Todd QC has described the scheme as a “trustworthy and transparent vehicle” for clients to manage their legal and litigation costs (27 September 2012).
The Bar Council announced today that the FSA has granted regulatory approval. The next phase will see a limited number of chambers take part, before a full roll-out in spring.
The chambers involved are Atkin Chambers, 2 Bedford Row, 33 Chancery Lane, Erskine Chambers, 39 Essex Street, St Johns Buildings, St Johns Chambers, Outer Temple Chambers, 37 Park Square and St Philips.
Today Todd, who is the chairman of the Barco committee, said: “We believe that [Barco] will offer an imaginative and unique solution for clients all over the world, making it easier than ever before to work with the bar, whilst maintaining the bar’s high quality and cost-effective services.
“We look forward to sharing more details about the progress of the first phase in due course.”
Todd has returned to the head of chambers position at Erskine Chambers with 2 Bedford Row’s Maura McGowan QC taking on the chairmanship of the Bar Council for 2013 (3 January 2013).