16 April 2013

Barristers: help shape the future of supervision

Practising barristers can help shape future policy by having their say on a new approach to the way they are supervised by the Bar Standards Board.

The BSB is seeking feedback on a new risk-based approach to supervision, designed to target resources at chambers and entities that are most likely to breach the Code of Conduct. It is a move that the regulator hopes will ensure that enforcement action is reserved for only the most serious or persistent cases of non-compliance.

Under the proposal, the BSB will assess the risk of non-compliance by taking into account factors like disciplinary history and good practice measures. The regulator will then inform those chambers identified as a higher risk and signpost them onto available support.

The BSB is keen that the new preventative approach will help develop positive relationships with chambers.

The consultation, which closes on 31 May 2013, comes at a time when recently published research revealed that 17% of chambers were non-compliant in at least one area.

Following supportive intervention all of these chambers have since addressed the non-compliance without any enforcement action having been pursued.    

Barristers can take part in the consultation here.

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Notes to editors

The BSB's 'Risk Assessment Supervision' consultation was launched on 26th February 2013. In particular the BSB would like comments on:

• How the BSB plans to gather evidence to determine which chambers or entities are at risk of breaching the code.
• What the BSB should look for in terms of good practice measures that make non-compliance less likely.
• When and how supervision should be used as an alternative to enforcement action.

Response forms for the consultation are available alongside the consultation. Please email completed forms to sissop@barstandardsboard.org.uk. Alternatively, hard copies can be sent to:
Sarah Issop at Bar Standards Board, 289-293 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7HZ

The Chambers Monitoring report is available on the BSB website. 624 chambers were included in the latest Chambers Monitoring programme and the vast majority (83%) were compliant in all areas covered.

Of the 104 chambers that were non-compliant in one area or more, all of the chambers have since addressed these issues and have systems and procedures that will ensure future compliance.

The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. It is responsible for:

• Setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister;
• Setting continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers' skills are maintained throughout their careers;
• Setting standards of conduct for barristers;
• Monitoring the service provided by barristers to assure quality, and handling complaints against barristers and taking disciplinary or other action where appropriate

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111392.