24 March 2018

Enforcement report published

We have published our Enforcement Annual Report for 2015-16. This report provides an overview of our enforcement work during the year and includes a number of statistics about the volume and outcome of complaints of professional misconduct about barristers.

The report highlights how taking a risk-based approach to enforcement - focusing attention on situations that pose the biggest threat to the public - has enabled us to make significant improvements to our complaints-handling processes.

The report shows that: 

  • We came to a decision on 552 complaints during 2015/16, compared with 363 during 2014/15;
  • During 2015/16, 33 per cent of all complaint outcomes were either referrals for disciplinary action or administrative sanctions (warnings and low level fines). This compares to 23 per cent during 2014/15;
  • 106 new referrals about barristers' professional conduct (19 per cent of outcomes) were made for disciplinary action during the year. This represents a similar proportion to the 70 referrals (20 per cent) in 2014/15. Under our risk-based approach to enforcement, disciplinary action is reserved for the most serious cases;
  • During the year, 76 administrative sanctions (14 per cent of outcomes) were imposed - a significant rise from the 11 (3 per cent) in 2014-15;
  • The amount of time taken to conclude cases or refer them to disciplinary action was shorter compared with the previous year, with 75.7 per cent of cases concluded or referred within agreed time periods - however this was still below the target of 80 per cent; and
  • There is a strong correlation between the outcomes of complaints and the perceived openness and transparency of the way in which complaints are investigated. That is, complainants are more likely to have a favourable view of the process if the outcome led to enforcement action being taken. We will continue to work on this area to inform and manage the expectations of complainants when they report potential issues of misconduct.