Sixteen businesses have so far completed their applications to be regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), it has emerged.
The barristers’ regulator, which said it has received over 75 expressions of interest in its new scheme of entity regulation, will issue its first licences next month.
The news came as the BSB published the minimum terms of the professional indemnity insurance it expects businesses to have in place.
Each entity will need minimum cover of £500,000 per claim – the figure that the Legal Services Board refused to allow the Solicitors Regulation Authority to adopt – but they will also have to ensure they have adequate insurance for the type of work they are doing.
Entities will have a strictly enforced 21-day grace period from the date on which the BSB confirms their authorisation to provide the regulator with evidence that appropriate insurance is in place. As it could take time to arrange the insurance, the regulator is advising prospective entities to apply simultaneously to an insurer and to the BSB for authorisation. An entity will not be able to practise until the insurance is in place.
Barristers who have professional indemnity insurance in place, covering their practice as a self-employed barrister, can continue to practise in this capacity whilst they are waiting for entity insurance cover.
BSB director of supervision Oliver Hanmer said: “We are well and truly geared up to start regulating entities from next month. We expect that providing confirmation about the necessary insurance arrangements will encourage further interest. If anyone wants to find out more, I urge them to get in touch as soon as possible.”
Barristers will be able to form companies, partnerships or LLPs. They will be not, for the time being, be able to create alternative business structures regulated by the BSB. The regulator is to make a separate application to the Legal Services Board to become a licensing authority later this year.
The BSB cannot license entities until 6 April, when a change to the Civil Procedure Rules comes into force that enable appeals against certain BSB decisions to be considered by the High Court for a short period of time until the appropriate legislation is in place to allow a decision of the BSB’s qualifications committee be appealed to the general regulatory chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.