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30 APR 2008

BSB launches consultation on 'cab rank rule'

Proposals for amending rules around acceptance of instructions are the focus of a new Bar Standards Board (BSB) consultation.

The consultation seeks to clarify the reasons and circumstances that justify a barrister either withdrawing from, or not accepting, instructions in accordance with the cab-rank rule and revise the way in which instructions must be communicated and accepted.

The changes focus on the following areas: the cab rank principle and the exceptions to it; the circumstances which may amount to actual or likely professional embarrassment; a barrister's duty to review and keep under review the way in which the lay client's interests are best served in terms of representation; the communication of any acceptance of instructions; the circumstances in which a barrister may or must cease to act.

The proposals reflect the BSB's ongoing commitment to the development of a robust and accessible Code and seek to address potential gaps between the Bars Code of Conduct, the common law and the Standard Contractual Terms in order to ensure certainty for barristers and clients.

Commenting on the proposals, Ruth Evans, BSB Chair said: It is in the public interest to ensure that cases are able to proceed with certainty: the changes we propose are designed to clarify the circumstances in which a barrister may withdraw from a case and where a barrister is obliged to provide representation.

"This greater clarity will be in the interests of both barristers and their clients."

The deadline for responses is 3 July 2008.

For more information, including the consultation, visit the Bar Standards Website: http://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/consultations/

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