Barristers will have to publish more information about their services under transparency rules introduced today by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) - but only a handful will have to publish their charges.
In a revised edition of its handbook, the regulator says that all self-employed barristers, chambers and BSB-regulated entities must publish on their websites which types of legal service they provide, their most commonly used pricing models and details of clients’ rights of redress.
However in contrast to the sweeping price-publication requirements imposed on solicitors from last December, only narrow categories of barristers will have to list their charges. The handbook says that additional transparency rules apply to barristers providing certain types of public access services, including employment tribunals, immigration appeals, financial disputes arising out of divorce and personal injury claims.
These barristers must state their pricing model - fixed fee or hourly rate - as well as their 'indicative fees' and circumstances in which they might vary. The BSB could not say how many barristers would fall into the 'additional transparency' category, but said that 6,194 practising barristers - 37.5% of the total - are registered to provide public access services.
Ewen MacLeod, BSB director of strategy and policy, said: ‘The introduction today of these new rules will enable the public to make more informed decisions before engaging a barrister. We intend to support the profession to enable it to comply with these new transparency standards.’
In 2017, a BSB consultation paper proposed that every barrister publish prices for their three most common types of case; or that chambers publish information on price ranges. However, chambers shot down the proposals, warning that publishing fees could lead to a ‘price war’.
Barristers have until next January to comply with the rules, which come into force immediately.