02 May 2014

UK barristers now allowed to conduct litigation

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UK Bar Standards Board prohibition on self-employed barristers conducting litigation has been removed. For the first time, from early this year, barristers have the opportunity to compete directly with solicitors in managing litigation on behalf of clients from start to finish.

Legal Futures has reported that, one of the first barristers authorised, Amanda de Winter, said her business has been so successful she plans outsource the back office functions to license the venture to other barristers.

The business provides direct access to a barrister who is handling their case and a fixed-fee regime. She says people are afraid of talking to their solicitor for fear that they will be charged for every call.

She says the attraction for her clients is: “that we do [the case] from start to finish and there’s not going to be a change halfway through. The barrister they talk to at the beginning is the barrister that is going to do the hearing.”

Barristers are also allowed to share premises and form associations with non-barristers which allows counsel to pool together risks and resources. Their conduct is still governed by rules

The chair of the  Barrister Standards Board, Baroness Ruth Deech said:

“Superfluous rules have been stripped away and others modernised. The Handbook’s approach is less prescriptive, with more focus and guidance on what the outcome of a rule should be, rather than attempting to define how a barrister should act in every situation. As well as offering greater clarity there are also new measures that will empower barristers to change their business models in line with consumer need.”