BSB puts ABS at centre of latest code of conduct review

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is to launch another consultation on a future code of conduct for barristers with consideration being given to the introduction of business structures to the bar.

The BSB launched its last consultation on the code of conduct in January; it was intended to be the final consultation before the new rulebook was devised.

However, the BSB said more discussions were needed to reflect the regulatory demands set out by the overarching watchdog, the Legal Services Board, in its paper The Regulatory Standards Framework.

The LSB said all approved regulators would need to shift to an outcomes-focused regime to bring them into line with each other. The SRA, Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) and Ilex Professional Standards (IPS) have already done this but the BSB is yet to finalise its approach.

It comes as a number of chambers are considering whether to establish corporate entities as subsidiaries to enable barristers to group together and offer flexible pricing methods.

Earlier this month Doughty Street Chambers revealed plans to launch a subsidiary to channel direct access work (17 October 2011).

Practice director Robin Jackson said any plans could not be put into action until the BSB devised a framework for entity-based regulation as opposed to barristers being regulated individually. He said the regulator needed to “hurry up” and get the reforms enacted.

The consultation is not expected to be released until January, by which point the SRA is expected to have been approved as the ABS regulator.

There will be concerns that the BSB is falling behind in the new regulatory environment and chambers will not be able to take the same advantage of the Legal Services Act as law firms.