Plans by the Bar Standards Board to scrap its ‘list of defaulting solicitors’ have been approved by the Legal Services Board. Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the LSB, said the list could undermine the independence of the BSB.
The Bar Standards Board is to dispense with its ‘list of defaulting solicitors’ and replace it with a new rule allowing barristers to refuse work under the cab-rank rule where there is an “unacceptable risk” that they will not get paid.
‘The cab-rank rule is dead, long live the cab-rank principle’, or words to that effect, may be heard before too long. More than two years after the prescriptive-rule-versus-laudable-principle debate was sparked, the Bar Standards Board appears ready to consider converting the rule and its many exceptions into an outcomes-focused foundation of barristers’ practice.
The Bar Standards Board has finally published a consultation on changes to the standard contractual terms and the cab-rank rule – almost eight months later than it had originally promised.
The Law Society has responded to a Bar Standards Board call for evidence on the cab-rank rule by questioning its “operational value”. A survey of solicitors who regularly use barristers found that only one person had actually invoked the rule.
Vanessa Davies, director of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), has apologised “for any impression that may have been created that we do not take our regulatory obligations seriously” after the BSB failed to launch a review of the standard contractual terms and the cab rank rule.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is investigating the extent to which barristers have been accepting work from solicitors without entering into contracts, or accepting terms “contrary to their regulatory obligations”.
Solicitors have been accused of using “bullying” tactics to impose their own contractual terms on barristers.
The Bar Standards Board has moved to close a “regulatory anomaly” that would have temporarily seen barristers forced to accept the controversial new legal aid rates set by the government for very high-cost cases (VHCCs).
The future of the cab-rank rule is still up for debate despite approval of the new Bar Standards Board code of conduct, which includes it, the Legal Services Board has warned. The BSB is also set to raise the issue of a cab-rank rule for solicitors, it has emerged.