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Cab rank rule for barristers ‘should be scrapped’ according to report written by Westminster Law Professor

4 February 2013

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A rule dating back hundreds of years that affects what cases barristers can take should be changed.

Professor John Flood of the Law School, with Professor Morten Hviid of the University of East Anglia, has published a report on the Cab Rank Rule for the Legal Services Board on 22 January, 2013.

They argue the rule, intended to ensure all clients get representation, is no longer effective and should either be abolished or amended. The authors propose that if the rule is changed it should apply to all providers of legal services, including those working in alternative business structures. It could adopt general principles such as the one espoused by the New York State Bar, which says, “You may not be refused representation on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.”

The rule which ensures that barristers do not pick and choose their cases, avoiding unpopular causes, is “redundant,” the Legal Services Board says.

In a consultation paper the board, which is the regulator of the legal services market, notes that the rule has been a “defining feature” of the bar for several hundred years.

Download the report.

Read more about the report.

The report is gathering attention, as can be seen from the comments on the Law Society’s Gazette and at Legal Futures.

The Legal Services Board is inviting the views of stakeholders, professional and consumer, on the analysis and the way forward.


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