The justice select committee has described the impact of Brexit on legal services as “a cause for concern, but not hyberbole”, in a report published today. MPs said that maintaining cross-border legal practice rights and access to “valuable regulations” on inter-state commercial law should be two of the four main justice aims for government negotiators.
The value of public access work carried out by barristers as a proportion of the profession’s income grew six-fold over just five years, according to new figures seen by Legal Futures. They come as a Bar Standards Board review of public access found it was working well, but had areas for improvement.
A criminal law barrister whose case papers were found in bin bags has been fined by a Bar disciplinary tribunal, while the Information Commissioner’s Office has fined another barrister after a software update on her home computer placed hundreds of unencrypted client documents online.
The Bar Council has warned barristers about “bending the truth” when making claims on a personal or chambers website and said they must be able to support claims that they are one of the best in their field.
Plans to force lawyers to be more transparent about their fees and complaints records could first be piloted across areas of work that have different regulators. The Solicitors Regulation Authority could also widen its plan for an online register of solicitors’ regulatory data to encompass all regulated lawyers.
Barristers in the youth courts will have to make a declaration that they have reached the standards set out by the Bar Standards Board to continue providing the service, it has emerged. But there will be no compulsory training so as to avoid discouraging counsel from doing low-paid youth court work.
A criminal defence solicitor who used his law firm’s accounts to lie about his income to HM Revenue & Customs and steal more than £60,000 in a tax fraud, has been jailed for 18 months. Meanwhile, two barristers have been disbarred after separate criminal convictions, one involving supplying cocaine.
The High Court has overturned a disciplinary tribunal finding against a barrister found to have pestered three women at a chambers summer party. Mrs Justice Lang said Stephen Howd’s “inappropriate, and at times offensive, behaviour was a consequence of his medical condition”, exacerbated by excessive alcohol.
Some 2,500 barristers will earn more than £240,000 this year, Bar Council figures have shown, and they will have to pay an extra £200 for their practising certificates after the Legal Services Board approved a 12% hike in fees across the board.
The Bar Council has appointed Thrings and Veale Wasborough Vizards as the first members of a new panel that will help barristers “delicately” recover unpaid fees from solicitors. More firms are expected to join the panel, and they offer a choice of payment options, including conditional fee agreements and fixed fees.