The bar regulator is proposing changing the definition of employed barristers to allow them to work in ‘different and more modern ways’.

In a consultation published today, the Bar Standards Board says that the current definition of employed barristers is 'unnecessarily restrictive’ as it prevents them from working through agencies or corporate vehicles unless they are granted a special waiver.

The consultation says that it is now common practice for local authorities, corporations and other non-authorised bodies to procure in-house services through agencies.

It said that barristers may also want to provide consultancy services through their own companies under service contracts.

But the current definition of employed barristers broadly restricts them to supplying legal services to their employer rather than their employer’s clients.

Barristers must apply for a waiver to get around these restrictions, which the BSB said is not a viable long-term solution as getting a waiver can be burdensome and lengthy. 

‘The current rule is preventing new ways of working and so limiting innovation in the market and constraining choice for consumers,’ the bar regulator said.

It has proposed changing the definition of employed barristers to allow them to contract services through an agency, regulated entity or a limited liability company.

Ewen Macleod, the director of regulatory policy at the BSB, said: ‘We are seeking to modernise our arrangements for employed barristers working outside of authorised law firms, to reflect better how employers seek to procure these services. In doing so, we want to ensure that there are no unintended consequences of amending the rules.’

The consultation will close on 15 December at 5pm.