25 April 2018

Bar regulator’s complaints-handling process is thorough and fair, says Independent Observer

30 September 2016

The way in which the Bar Standards Board (BSB) deals with complaints against barristers and handles disciplinary proceedings is thorough and fair, says the Independent Observer's latest report, published today.

The Independent Observer, Isobel Leaviss, has the role of providing independent assurance to the BSB that its enforcement system is operating in line with its aims and objectives. This is her fifth annual report since her appointment in 2011.

No major concerns were found with the BSB's complaints-handling process. The report makes a number of key points:

  • The enforcement information on the regulator's website has been improved. It is  now clearer and easier to understand for both complainants and barristers;
  • For cases concluded outside target turnaround times, the case officers were observed following up cases as quickly and diligently as possible. Most of the long-running cases during the period covered by the report were protracted for reasons outside the BSB's direct control eg due to other related legal proceedings;
  • Staff dealing with cases sometimes face challenging behaviour by complainants and barristers but were observed being robust, courteous and professional; and
  • Overall, the BSB's enforcement system is operating in line with its aims and objectives.

Speaking about her report, Ms Leaviss said: "Overall, my observations have been positive. I continue to observe concerted efforts by all those involved to ensure that rules, policies and procedures are applied fairly. I have made two high priority recommendations relating to equality and diversity monitoring and training for the Board and Committee members, both of which had lapsed and should be implemented as a matter of good practice."

She made 11 recommendations in total.  All have been accepted, implemented or are underway.

Commenting on the report, BSB Director General Dr Vanessa Davies said: "I welcome the recommendations and findings made by the Independent Observer. Her contributions ensure our complaints-handling process continues to be refined and improved, particularly in the context of being a risk-based regulator."

You can read the report here.

ENDS

Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t

About the Independent Observer

The BSB's lay Independent Observer provides independent assurance that the BSB's enforcement system is operating in line with its aims and objectives. The Independent Observer does not act as an independent adjudicator and cannot respond to individual parties about complaints. For more information, please see: http://bit.ly/1Bs361u

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or email press@barstandardsboard.org.uk.