We have issued a Regulatory Return to a selection of around 350 chambers, BSB entities and sole practitioners. We have contacted by email those who have been selected. If you have not heard from us, you do not need to complete the Return.

The Regulatory Return is a way for us to assess risk across the Bar and levels of compliance with our rules. It is an exercise we last undertook in 2015-16, when it was known as the “Supervision Return”.

In the Return, we have asked a range of questions including views on the risks that the profession faces, information about the processes and controls in key areas of practice, and some questions on specific topics that are currently a priority in our strategic plan, such as dealing with allegations of harassment.

Sole practitioners will receive a shorter, tailored version of the questionnaire.

We are mindful that the current health crisis has impacted the Bar in different ways. We are interested in understanding more about that. For example, whether new risks or opportunities have arisen from COVID-19, whether chambers and entities have modified their governance or working practices or whether it has led to changes in how barristers use technology in their work.

Although we have tried to make completing the Return as simple as possible, we know it will take time to respond, but a number of participants last time told us that they found it useful in prompting them to review their policies and processes and think about where they could be improved, so we hope that those selected this time will find it a useful exercise too.

This is an opportunity for those selected to explain how effectively potential risks are being managed, how they ensure compliance with the BSB Handbook, and how high standards of practice are maintained. The Return enables us to target our resources at those chambers, entities, individuals or areas that would benefit from supervisory attention. Those managing risk effectively can expect a low level of supervision.

We have been contacted by a number of chambers and have been talking to the Legal Practice Management Association and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks. We have listened to the concerns that they have raised about wanting to be able to provide us with effective responses, but their difficulty in doing this by the deadline that we set of 4 January 2021. We have therefore decided to extend the deadline for the completion of the majority of the questions in the Regulatory Return to 31 March 2021.

There are, however, five questions (four for sole practitioners) in the Return that relate to the impact of COVID-19 on the profession. Without your response to these questions, we are unable to properly understand the impact of the pandemic on the profession and consider how we might be able to respond to support the profession, within our remit as a regulator, in a timely manner. We are therefore asking you to respond to these four or five questions in line with the original deadline of 4 January 2021. Emails have been sent with more details, so please look out for this.

You can access the Return via your organisation MyBar account (not your individual account). If you can’t see the questionnaire on MyBar but have been asked to complete it, please contact us. If you have questions about the Regulatory Return, please email supervision@barstandardsboard.org.uk