The Financial Services Authority has given the go-ahead for the bar’s scheme that will allow barristers to hold client money through a third party, enabling clients to bypass solicitors and instruct barristers directly more widely.
The FSA has granted regulatory approval under the Payment Services Regulations for Barco, a third-party escrow account which holds client money, allowing barristers to offer a full range of services without breaching their code of conduct, which prohibits them from holding client money.
Several large chambers, including Atkin Chambers, 2 Bedford Row, 33 Chancery Lane, Erskine Chambers, 39 Essex Street and Outer Temple Chambers in London; St. Johns Buildings, Manchester; St. Johns Chambers, Bristol; 37 Park Square, Leeds and St. Philips in Birmingham will test the scheme before it is extended across the whole profession.
Barco is owned and operated by the Bar Council. It provides an escrow service to receive funds required in relation to ongoing legal services for legal fees, alternative dispute resolution costs, disbursements and settlements. The funds will be held in a ringfenced account at Barclays Bank.
Barco chair and immediate past chairman of the bar Michael Todd QC said: ‘We believe that it will offer an imaginative and unique solution for clients all over the world, making it easier than ever before to work with the bar, whilst maintaining the bar’s high-quality and cost-effective services.’