first_imgBar Council leaders have condemned the Legal Services Board for refusing to ban referral fees, and will look into whether the fees break the terms of the Bribery Act. Writing in an update to members, chair Peter Lodder and vice-chair Michael Todd said they were ‘surprised and angered’ by the decision not to introduce prohibition. Earlier this year, the LSB stated its intention to manage the impact of referral fees and prevent abuses by making the system more transparent. But Bar Council leaders said they will continue to call for an outright ban, and have instructed leading counsel to advise on the impact of the Bribery Act on these payments. Lodder and Todd said: ‘They [referral fees] represent an unwarranted and unjustifiable threat to the public interest in the efficient and effective provision of legal services to consumers. ‘The choice of lawyer should not be influenced by who paid what to whom, but should be decided purely on the quality and skills of the individual of their ability to advocate the client’s best interests.’ A ban has been supported by the Law Society, and prime minister David Cameron has indicated that he is ‘sympathetic’ towards the idea. However Dianne Hayter, outgoing chair of the Legal Services Board Consumer Panel, told the Gazette that clients are happy to accept referral fees as long as they are ‘revealed, regulated and written’. ‘We have found they like to work with intermediaries – they sometimes find solicitors quite difficult to talk to and they want someone that speaks their language,’ she said.last_img