Barrister incorporation

The Bar Standards board (BSB) has regulated authorised bodies since April 2015 being entities that are fully owned and managed by authorised individuals, ie lawyers with current practising certificates.

From 3 April 2017, the BSB began regulating licensed bodies – also referred to as Alternative Business Structures (ABS). These bodies are owned and managed by authorised individuals and non-authorised individuals, ie non lawyers. The ABS, to be regulated by the BSB, needs to focus on advocacy-related litigation services and expert legal advice. It would also need to be more than 75% owned by authorised individuals. The BSB take a risk-based approach to their decisions on authorising ABS entities.

The BSB explains the benefits as being that barristers and other advocacy-focussed lawyers will be able to pool together resources and share the risks of investing in their own business, without having to change regulators. The BSB want to extend these benefits to lawyers who want to co-own legal services business with non lawyers by licensing Alternative Business Structures (ABS). These could include a mix of other professionals, or family owned businesses. Partnerships with non lawyers has the potential to bring other skills and knowledge from which a legal services business could benefit. BSB believe that becoming a regulator of entities will help new advocacy focussed business models emerge and flourish, which in turn will increase client choice.

As a firm of accountants and business advisers we have guided many clients through the process of incorporation and so are ideally placed to advise our barrister clients.

In general business terms, incorporation is looked upon favourably because of the tax advantages it offers; also the limitation of liability where private assets are safeguarded from a company’s debts.  We strongly recommend that each barrister thinks carefully and takes specialist advice before embarking upon this strategy. Tax advantages may, for example, look very appealing to some barristers at a certain level of income but you need to be aware that these advantages may be temporary and dependent on the government policies of the day. There are other complexities that need to be considered. Incorporation itself is relatively straightforward; disincorporation is much more complex.

We would be very happy to discuss incorporation with you and help you understand the impact it would have on your own circumstances. There are a number of stages through which we will be able to help you:

Initial incorporation report – is incorporation right for you?

    • Detailed tax planning report

    • Incorporation of the new company with all necessary registrations

    • Package to include all ongoing annual compliance matters for a limited company

If you decide to look further into incorporation, we will be able advise you through the process.

Please email for a copy of our “Should I incorporate” report.

Please contact us on 0845 337 9409 to discuss it further with Janet Dentith or Tony Reynolds, or email

The information given was correct at the time of publication (January 2018).

All content is for general guidance only. It provides an outline, and may not include points which are important in your case. You should not rely on this blog without taking individual advice based on the full facts of your case.