What is the Regulatory Return and who has been asked to complete it?

We issued a Regulatory Return to a selection of around 350 chambers, BSB entities and sole practitioners. We have contacted 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 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 received a shorter, tailored version of the questionnaire.

We are mindful that the pandemic has impacted the Bar in different ways and were 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.

This was 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.

What are we doing with the information that has been submitted?

We are very grateful for the huge effort that everyone has put into completing the Return, at a very difficult time. It has provided us with a great deal of information that we have already made very good use of:

  • Information that was submitted in relation to how the profession has responded to the pandemic, views on key risks faced by the profession and the changes that are anticipated, have been used to develop our thinking about the areas that we will be focussing on in our next three-year strategic plan, which we will be publishing next year. We will be publishing a separate report on the profession’s response to the pandemic.
  • A number of questions were asked to help provide an evidence base for various projects that we are working on. The responses are being used by the respective project teams in the areas of bullying and harassment; competence of barristers; equality and diversity; evaluation of the transparency rules; emerging technology; our review of the Code of Conduct; supervision of claims management activity; and supervision under the Money Laundering Regulations.

The Supervision Team is in the process of working through the questions about how risks are being managed, compliance with key areas of the BSB Handbook and how high standards of practice are maintained. We are giving individual feedback to chambers, entities and sole practitioners and this process will continue over the summer. If you haven’t heard from us yet, you will do soon. We will also publish a report on themes that emerge from this work.

If you have questions about the Regulatory Return, please email supervision@barstandardsboard.org.uk