Dr Vanessa Davies
Dr Vanessa Davies became our Director-General in January 2011.
Prior to joining the BSB, Vanessa was the deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations at Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), which was one of the largest legal aid charities in the UK, supporting over 7,000 vulnerable people on an annual basis across 11 locations in the UK. She was responsible for professional training, standards and compliance of solicitors, barristers, accredited caseworkers and paralegals. She oversaw the closure of the charity in 2010 when it went into administration after changes to legal aid contracting.
Vanessa started her working life as a linguist. She was a British Academy post-doctoral fellow in French at King's College London and then the Director of the Language Centre there, establishing it as one of the leading centres in the UK for applied language studies. Dr Davies then spent nearly a decade at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, first as Director of the Diplomatic Service Language Centre and subsequently as a Group Director overseeing a range of services in support of UK foreign policy.
Vanessa left the world of languages in 2005 and trained for the Bar. She is an unregistered barrister, and a Bencher of Inner Temple.
Vanessa will be succeed by Mark Neale on 1 February 2020.
Vanessa has declared the following interests:
- Trustee of Law for Life (as from April 2017) - a charity dedicated to ensuring that people have the knowledge, confidence and skills needed to secure access to justice.
- Board member of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education appointment from December 2017 for for three years.
- non-executive Director, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ie the prosecution service in Scotland (term ends 21/12/21).
Lay member, House of Lords Conduct Committee; appointed October 2019 for three years.
Director of Regulatory Operations
Oliver is responsible for leading our authorisation and supervision functions as well as ensuring that barristers remain competent to practise. His department includes the Contact and Assessment Team which receives all incoming information into the BSB and ensuring that it is assessed and handled in a consistent and proportionate way.
Oliver has over twenty years of experience in legal regulation ranging from complaints handling to strategy and policy development. He has a particular interest in advocacy standards and was instrumental in the development of the BSB’s approach to maintaining standards of advocacy in the Youth Court.
Oliver is chair of governors at his eldest son’s primary school. He has a degree in law.
Director of Legal and Enforcement
Sara is responsible for leading the BSB's enforcement and legal support functions including handling investigations, disciplinary proceedings and litigation arising from the BSB’s regulatory decision making. She has been with the BSB since its inception in 2006 and has led a number of change programmes within the organisation to modernise the BSB’s enforcement functions.
Sara is a qualified barrister, who holds an employed barrister's practising certificate. She was called to the Bar in 1991 and practised in her early career from a leading London criminal chambers. She has over 20 years' experience in complaints management having previously held the roles of Assistant Ombudsman at the Prisons Ombudsman Office and Complaints Manager at Bristol City Council.
Sara has also been a Trustee of the charity Prisoners Advice Service and lay member of the Independent Review Mechanism.
Director of Strategy and Policy
Ewen is responsible for ensuring that we properly understand the risks in the market that we regulate and that appropriate outcomes are achieved by our regulatory arrangements to address these risks, drawing on appropriate evidence and stakeholder views to meet the regulatory objectives (particularly in the BSB Handbook and related guidance).
He is also responsible for ensuring that we set appropriate rules to support equality and diversity at the Bar and that we ourselves comply with our equality and diversity reporting duties and assess the impact of new policies on different groups. Ewen joined us in 2011.
Before that, he undertook a variety of regulatory roles at the Scottish Water Commission and the General Dental Council, before working in central Government (Department of Work and Pensions) briefing ministers, developing policy and drafting legislation. He has a degree in Scots Law and a Master of Business Administration.
Director of Communications and Public Engagement
Wilf leads our small communications team which is responsible for leading the BSB’s engagement with its stakeholders to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to our policy making, raising awareness of our work and promoting the role of the BSB as the regulator of barristers with all relevant stakeholders.
Before joining the BSB Wilf spent twelve years in HM Treasury and fourteen years at the BBC advising on financial and regulatory issues. He has a degree in Law.