The Bar Standards Board will move a step closer to parity with the solicitors regulator next year when it begins regulating entities.

This morning the BSB confirmed that super-regulator the Legal Services Board has approved its application to regulate businesses that are authorised to carry out and provide reserved legal activities.

In a statement, the BSB said that by regulating entities that focus on advocacy, litigation, and specialist legal advice, it will ‘significantly help broaden the public’s choice as to how they access legal services’.

Barristers and solicitor-advocates will now be able to pool resources and share the risks of investing in their own business, without having to change regulators. Barristers presently need to switch to SRA regulation.

Solicitor-advocates would be free to set up an entity regulated by the BSB, but would still need to be individually regulated by the SRA unless they are called to the bar.

The board remains committed to regulating alternative business structures in due course.

BSB chair Baroness Deech (pictured), said: ‘There is clear interest on the part of the bar in setting up or becoming part of an entity. As the regulator of barristers we are committed to helping the bar develop new and innovative ways of providing legal services, because we believe this will benefit consumers and be in the public interest.’

The BSB has set out its fee structure for barristers and other lawyers who want to form entities under the BSB’s entity regulation regime. This comprises application, authorisation and annual fees.

In the first three years the BSB expects to regulate between 900 and 1,400 single-person entities – for example barristers wishing to incorporate their practice and form single-person companies. They would still be allowed to belong to chambers.

The BSB has previously set out the qualification criteria that might be appropriate for approval as a board-regulated entity:

  • all owners and all managers are individuals;
  • 50% or more of the owners and 50% or more of the managers are entitled to exercise rights of audience in the higher courts;
  • a substantial part of the services to be provided are advocacy and/or litigation services and expert legal advice;
  • the entity is not intending to provide high-volume, standardised legal transactional services;
  • 75% or more of owners and 75% or more of managers are authorised individuals;
  • a substantial proportion of employees are going to be authorised individuals; and
  • each manager supervises only a small number of employees.