Bar Standards Board (BSB) entity regulation is “significantly cheaper and simpler” for sole practitioners and better for clients, according to a solicitor whose start-up law firm is to be regulated by the BSB.
Family practitioner Claire Stewart sought BSB entity regulation for her new practice, Bridge Law Solicitors, in Stockport, Cheshire. The firm, which has just received authorisation, will enable her to focus on commercial dispute resolution as well as family law.
Ms Stewart is a consultant solicitor at Evolve Family Law in Macclesfield. Evolve – itself launched by two solicitors under the BSB’s oversight in August 2015.
She told Legal Futures that she intended to continue with Evolve but that it made sense to create a separate firm: “I can’t really do winding-up petitions while being under the Evolve Family Law banner.”
The BSB was “very easy to deal with”, she said. Its regulation was “more client friendly” than the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA): “When I was going through all the BSB regulations, the information we have to provide to clients is quite rigorous – more so I would say than… when I was with a firm of solicitors. It’s very transparent.”
Ms Stewart, who was a senior associate at Pannone and then Slater & Gordon for almost 15 years, sat the Bar’s vocational course (as it was then) before transferring to become a solicitor. She said that while at Evolve she had witnessed “how well the BSB was working” as an entity regulator.
The main reason why BSB entity regulation was “a really good opportunity for sole practitioners and small firms” was the lower cost, which she researched before choosing a regulator, she said.
The BSB, whose entity fee structure is based on the number of authorised individuals, charges a single person a £260 application fee plus £330 for authorisation in the first year, and an annual renewal fee of £365. The cost of annual renewal for a two-to-five-person firm is currently £1,000.
The SRA calculates its firm fee on a firm’s turnover. The cost of authorisation for a firm with a turnover between £20,000-£149,999 is £252. For a firm with between £150,000-£499,999, the minimum fee is £837. Both authorisation fees include a £100 application fee.