The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has approved 15 new businesses as it enters the world of entity regulation – but they remain unnamed as they have first to confirm that they have professional indemnity insurance in place.
Since it started accepting applications at the beginning of 2015, the barristers’ regulator said it has now received 90 expressions of interest from those wishing to set up BSB-regulated entities.
The BSB’s move expands its remit beyond regulating just individual barristers to encompass companies or partnerships that provide advocacy, litigation, and other legal advice services.
It said entity regulation will help barristers and “other advocacy-focused lawyers” to pool resources and share the risks of investing in their own business.
“Barristers can share ownership of entities with other lawyers so that they can adapt and offer clients a wider range of services. The BSB believes that becoming a regulator of entities will help encourage new advocacy-focused business models to emerge and thrive, which in turn will broaden client choice.”
At the moment the BSB cannot approve non-lawyer owners through licensing alternative business structures but has made plain its ambition to move onto that soon.
No details of the 15 have been released, but the BSB has been expecting  most applicants to be single-person entities.
Oliver Hanmer, the BSB’s director of supervision, said: “Our aim is to provide those wanting to specialise in advocacy, litigation and specialist legal advice with a specific and focused regime and today this becomes a reality. We know from our conversations with members of the Bar that there is real enthusiasm for entities regulated by us. I’m sure these 15 are just the beginning.
“Against what is for many a backdrop of uncertainty and change, we hope this will give barristers and other lawyers more freedom to react to changes in the market and to devise new ways of working so as to remain competitive and best serve their clients.”
An entity authorised by the BSB has 21 days from when it receives its authorisation in which to show the regulator evidence that it has appropriate insurance arranged. Last month the BSB said  they need at least £500,000 cover per claim.