From May barristers offering public access services will have to emulate solicitors in publishing their prices - but instructed barristers will be exempt.
Under price transparency requirements agreed by the bar regulator last night, self-employed practitioners and chambers will have to publish only their pricing models. They will also have to provide potential clients with a quote.
The Bar Standards Board's rules are subject to approval by the Legal Services Board.
According to the BSB rules, chambers and self-employed barristers will have to provide a quote if sufficient information has been provided by the potential client and if the barrister or chambers is willing to provide the services. Quotes must be provided ‘within a reasonable time period’ and in ‘clear and readily understandable terms’.
Public access barristers will have to display ‘in a prominent place’; their pricing model, indicative fees, whether they include VAT and any likely additional costs for certain types of work.
The rules will come into force in May, with compliance spot-checking by the regulator starting next year.
Ewen Macleod, director of strategy and policy at the BSB, said: ‘We are confident that, subject to final approval by the LSB, these new rules will improve the information available to the public to allow them to engage the right barrister for their circumstances, whilst not burdening the profession with unnecessary new requirements.’
The drive to publish legal price lists follows the Competition and Markets Authority's 2016 finding that a lack of such information deters clients from shopping around. Since December, firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority have been required to publish their charges for services in conveyancing, probate, motoring offences, immigration advice and bringing employment tribunal claims.