New standard terms for Bar creating controversy

29 January 2013. Published by Sally Lord, Knowledge Lawyer

The Law Society yesterday issued a practice note on the new standard contractual terms for the supply of legal services of barristers. These rules are due to come into effect in January 2013.

The Law Society considers that it is likely that most barristers will seek to adopt these new terms, even though the standard rules are not normally default terms for Barristers. This Practice Note is seen as the Law Society's way of warning solicitors to protect themselves against potential disadvantageous contractual terms.

In the Practice Note itself, the Law Society draws attention to clauses that it considers solicitors need to be aware of. These include clauses relating to the receipt and acceptance of instructions and increasing fee rates. Possibly the most notable change is that the new terms enable barristers to sue for their fees.

In addition, where a solicitor fails to pay an invoice, the new terms end the withdrawal of credit list and instead implement an advisory List of Defaulting Solicitors. Barristers are then able to refuse instructions from solicitors on the List.

The note itself is an interesting read and should be read by all those that instruct barristers once the new rules come into force.

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