New Standard Contractual Terms to take effect in January 2013

Further to my notice of the 14 September 2012, I am pleased to report that the BSB have agreed that the New Standard terms will take effect from 31 January 2013.   I very much hope that this window will enable you to prepare for the implementation of these changes.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Carolyn McCombe, Howard Rayner and Jon Robinson for their extensive efforts in helping the IBC to achieve this extension for its members.

NEW STANDARD CONTRACTUAL TERMS TO TAKE EFFECT IN JANUARY 2013

The Bar Standards Board (BSB), the regulatory body for barristers in England and Wales, has agreed that the new Standard Contractual Terms will now take effect on 31 January 2013. 

The new terms were previously scheduled to take effect on 31 October 2012 but, following feedback from a range of stakeholders, the deadline was extended to enable instructing solicitors, barristers' chambers, their practice managers and software providers to adjust to the changes being proposed.  All chambers will be expected to comply with the new provisions from 31 January 2013. 

The new Standard Contractual Terms aim to modernise the process of referral of work to barristers.  Increasingly, barristers are seeking to agree contractual terms with solicitors instead of the traditional default system of non-contractual arrangements (which in certain cases had the potential to create difficulties enforcing and recovering fees).

The Legal Services Board (LSB) approved a Bar Standards Board amendment to the Code of Conduct, under which the cab rank rule will apply to both the new Standard Contractual Terms and to barristers' own contractual terms, as published on their chambers website.  Previously, clients had been denied the benefits of the cab rank rule when instructions were made on a contractual basis and this represents an important modernisation of that rule.  In all other respects, barristers and solicitors are free to negotiate such terms as they see fit.

The existing exclusions to the cab rank rule, such as conflict of interest or not being available, will continue to apply.

David Barnes
Chairman

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