Regulator(s) for English barristers approve changes to the “cab rank rule” regarding the “duty to accept” cases

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is the “frontline” regulator for barristers in England and Wales; the overarching regulator is the Legal Services Board (LSB).

Yesterday the LSB approved a proposal from the BSB to change the “cab rank rule” which says, in essence,  that barristers are required to accept clients who request their services.  (In other words, they are similar to “taxi cabs” and have to accept the person who “hailed” their services.)

The new rule allows barristers to refuse work from a professional client who, in the reasonable opinion of the barrister, presents an unacceptable credit risk.  (The previous rule only allowed barristers to decline work from solicitors on a specified list.)  For information on the history of this rule and the consultations, see here and here.

For those teaching Professional Responsibility, the English cab rank rule, even as amended, can be contrasted with the ABA Model Rules.  The only mandatory ABA Model Rule that contains a “duty to accept” cases is found in ABA Model Rule 6.2 regarding court appointments. (Rule 6.1 encourages but does not require the acceptance of a certain number of pro bono cases).

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