Fifteen barrister-led businesses are set to go into competition with solicitor firms, the Bar Standards Board announced today, saying it had authorised 15 new businesses as ‘BSB-regulated entities’.
It will not name the businesses until they have secured insurance and are ready to offer legal services, a spokesman for the regulator said.
Until now the regulator has been allowed to license only individual self-employed barristers. Since it started accepting applications for ‘entities’ at the beginning of 2015 it has received 90 expressions of interest in setting up entities to offer services in advocacy, litigation and other services.
The BSB said that its becoming a regulator of entities would help encourage new advocacy-focused business models to emerge and thrive, in turn broadening client choice.
The current crop of approvals is for lawyer-owned businesses. However the BSB has a long-standing ambition to license alternative business structures and an application to the super-regulator is understood to be imminent.
Oliver Hanmer (pictured), the BSB's director of supervision, said: ‘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, without which it cannot provide legal services.
Last month the BSB confirmed the minimum level of cover each entity is expected to have is £500,000 per claim. However, each entity will be obliged to ensure they have adequate insurance for the nature of their practice (which may be more than the minimum) to protect their clients.