The Bar Standards Board (BSB) are seeking SRA-style powers over barrister's chambers.
A consultation document entitled 'Amendment to Bar Standards Board powers' has argued that 'this would ensure a level playing field between different regulatory regimes.'
The Solicitors Regulation Authority currently enjoys the power of being able to seize client files and intervene in client dealings where regulations are being breached by one of their firms or in the event of administration.
The regulator has cited the increase in public access work being the main cause of this proposal, feeling that this has the potential to alter the risk landscape.
The powers being sought are similar to those the BSB will be granted if it is licensed as a regulator of alternative business structures, for which it applied last week. However if approved, the new powers will apply to 'all persons regulated by the BSB, including individual barristers, entities and their owners and managers'.
Ewan Macleod, director of regulatory policy for the BSB, has moved to quash any initial concern amongst chambers saying: ‘To be clear: these are powers that would be used very rarely, but we think that, in the event something goes awry, all clients should benefit from the same safeguards - regardless of whether they’re the client of an ABS, a BSB-regulated entity, or a barristers’ chambers.’
The BSB does currently have disciplinary control over non-barristers anyway but wishes to solidify it's regulatory powers on a statutory footing.
The BSB is also currently seeking opinion on the set up of a compensation fund, although this is not of pressing importance considering that barrister's chambers do not hold client money as solicitors do.
Members are currently being consulted on the proposals and feedback is being accepted until 31st July.
'This would ensure a level playing field between different regulatory regimes,'