Bar Standards Board amends ‘cab rank’ rule

The Bar Standards Board has changed the rule that requires a barrister to accept an instruction as the next available barrister when a case comes up even though there is a risk that they might not get paid for taking on the work.

The ‘cab rank’ rule is shorthand for the professional obligation on barristers to accept instructions from a client regardless of any personal dislike of the client or the case.

Under the change, barristers will be allowed to refuse work from solicitors if they feel is there is an “unacceptable credit risk”. They will be expected, however, to consider alternatives to payment from solicitors, such as third party payment or getting advance payment.

The BSB said that the rule, which it hopes will come into force soon, will be a more practical alternative to the current list of defaulting solicitors.