16 October 2018

Frequently asked questions

What action have you taken on the complaint before referring it to a tribunal?

 

We will have carried out an investigation to make sure there is enough evidence to show that the barrister, or other person we regulate, has not complied with their professional obligations. These obligations are set out in the BSB Handbook (for conduct that happened before 6 January 2014, the obligations are set out in the Code of Conduct 8th Edition). Where a barrister, or other person we regulate, has not met their obligations, we have a range of options available to deal with the situation and we will not always take disciplinary action. However, where there has been a serious breach of the Handbook, we will consider referring the case to an independent disciplinary tribunal.

You can see the BSB Handbook, containing the Code of Conduct which barristers must keep to, on our website.

 

What is an independent disciplinary tribunal?

 

Disciplinary tribunals are arranged by an independent organisation called the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS). It appoints members of disciplinary tribunals and arranges hearings. We have no influence over the members chosen to hear disciplinary cases or the decisions they make.

Tribunal panels are made up of barristers, independent lay people (people who are not from the legal profession) and sometimes judges. All tribunal panels will include at least one lay person. Lay people are members of the general public who have qualities and experience that make them suitable to hear disciplinary cases and be unbiased.

 

Can someone who has made a complaint take part in the tribunal hearing?

 

The person who has made the complaint (the complainant) will not be directly involved in the disciplinary proceedings, unless he or she has to be a witness in the case. This is because we are responsible for taking action against a barrister, or other person we regulate, who might have breached their professional obligations. Therefore, we will decide what charges (allegations) of professional misconduct to bring against the barrister.

We will make sure that a complainant is kept informed of the progress of any disciplinary proceedings arising from their complaint by providing the date of the disciplinary tribunal hearing and informing them of the outcome of the hearing. Disciplinary tribunals are usually held in public and anyone, including the complainant, can attend.

 

Are disciplinary tribunals' decisions published?

 

Yes. The disciplinary tribunal makes the final decision on whether or not a barrister, or other person we regulate, has breached their professional obligations and is guilty of professional misconduct. If a barrister is found guilty of professional misconduct, BTAS will publish the finding on its website.

A record of the finding will also be included in the barrister's, or other person we regulate's, formal disciplinary record and will be available to any person or organisation asking us for details of disciplinary findings against them.

 

Can there be an appeal against a disciplinary tribunal decision?

 

Yes. The barrister, or other person we regulate, can appeal against the finding and/or sentence imposed by a disciplinary tribunal. Appeals are made to the High Court. We will tell the complainant if the barrister, or other person we regulate, appeals and let them know the final outcome.

We can also appeal the decision of a disciplinary tribunal but only in limited circumstances and only if the Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee agrees.