What is the Cab Rank Rule?
Posted on 1st May 2019
It’s an odd expression, which you most-likely will have never heard in your day-to-day life, however the Cab Rank Rule applies to barristers, and is a professional obligation to accept instructions from every client, regardless of their personal opinion of the client, or their views of the case that they would be dealing with. According to the Bar Standards Board, it originates from the principles instilled in Cab drivers – no Licensed Hackney Carriage driver can refuse to carry a passenger, save from some limited exceptions.
The rule itself can be found in the Bar Standards Handbook, which can be found here, under rC29 – the ‘cab-rank’ rule. It states that if a barrister receives instructions from a professional client (such as your Solicitors in Preston, MG Legal), and the barrister is either self-employed or any individual authorised by the Bar Standards Board, and they are appropriately experienced to deal with the instructions, then they must accept the instructions, regardless of whether the case is being paid privately, or it is publicly funded, the identity of the client and the nature of the instructions, and any opinion they hold of the client.
However, as with most things in life, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Under the following circumstances, a barrister does not have to accept the instructions: -
If the barrister has a prior commitment, such as another case in the diary, or they do not have the time to deal with the instruction, which would not be in the best interests of the perspective client.
If there is a conflict of interest between the personal interest of the barrister and the prospective client, or between the prospective client and a former/existing client of the barrister.
If, due to information the barrister holds about a former or existing client, the barrister would not fully be able to work in the best interests of the prospective client.
The instructions provided affect the barrister’s ordinary authority in the conduct of proceedings, or they would require them to go against the law, of their Handbook. Additionally, the instruction does not have to be accepted if it would affect the barrister’s independence.
The barrister cannot perform the work required by the instruction, or they are not experienced enough.
If the potential liability for professional negligence exceeds the level of professional indemnity insurance available for the barrister to accept.
If the barrister is a QC (part of the Queen’s Counsel), and the instruction would require them to act without assistance of a junior, where the best interests of the client demands a junior should also be instructed.
If the instruction involves any foreign work, or would require the barrister to act on behalf of a foreign lawyer (excluding a European Lawyer, a lawyer from a country which is a member of EFTA, a solicitor or barrister from Northern Ireland, or a solicitor under Scottish law).
If the professional client, i.e. your Solicitors in Preston, are instructing the barrister in a private capacity, rather than a professional capacity.
If the professional client (i.e. your Solicitors in Lancaster) will not accept liability for the barrister’s fees, or if they – in the opinion of the barrister – are an unacceptable credit risk (for example, if a barrister has previously obtained a Judgement against the professional client for non-payment of fees, or if they are included on the Bar Council’s List of Defaulting Solicitors, or if a firm is subject to insolvency proceedings, an IVA – Individual Voluntary Arrangement - or a PVA – Partnership Voluntary Arrangement.
If the barrister has not been offered a proper fee (unless they do not reasonably propose or respond to any fee proposals within a reasonable time, after they receive the instructions).
If the barrister’s fees have not been agreed (unless, as above, there has been an unreasonable time delay in agreeing fees), if the barrister does not receive up-front payment in full, where requested, or if the barrister’s acceptance of any instructions would require them to act outside of either their own standard terms of work, or the Standard Contractual Terms for the Supply of Legal Services by Barristers to Authorised Persons 2012, if their own standard terms are not provided
If you need to instruct a Solicitor in Preston, or want advice about instructing a barrister, contact our team on 01772 783 314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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