BSB to clamp down on transparency requirements

updated on 01 November 2021

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The Bar Standards Board (BSB) will take a ‘tougher stance’ on chambers that fail to disclose how they calculate their fees.

This comes after many sets were found to be failing to meet the BSB’s minimum transparency requirements.

The BSB discovered that as of summer 2020, more than 20% of chambers, and more than a third of lawyers, failed to provide sufficient information on their websites about how they calculated fees.

Meanwhile, as of October 2020, nearly one in three chambers were categorised as non-compliant with the BSB’s transparency rules.

The BSB introduced the transparency rules in July 2019. The rules require all practising barristers, chambers and BSB-regulated entities to disclose information about their services, including:

  • the types of legal service provided;
  • their pricing models; and
  • details of their clients' rights of redress.

According to the BSB website, the rules are “designed to help consumers better understand the price and service they will receive from barristers.” The BSB believes there has already been progress made towards better transparency and aims to bring the profession into full compliance with the requirements.

Ewen Macleod, BSB director of strategy and policy said: “While the majority of practices are complying – and many are already seeing the benefits of doing so – a significant minority remain non-compliant.”

“This is unacceptable – the profession has had ample time to comply with these rules, which are designed to improve the information available to the public. It is therefore right that our approach to non-compliance changes and we will take enforcement action where necessary to ensure compliance.”

It’s not only barristers that have to adhere to transparency rules, two months ago LawCareers.Net reported that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is now demanding that law firms adhere to transparency rules and display the SRA digital badge on their websites.

In contrast to the requirements imposed on solicitors' firms, only a narrow category of barristers must list their indicative fees.