14 October 2019

Regulator tidies up complaint handling powers

12 February 2015

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) wants to tidy up the regulations in relation to complaint handling by removing the power of its Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) to take "No Further Action" (NFA) decisions.

The PCC is responsible for investigating complaints and taking enforcement action against barristers who have breached the BSB Handbook (or previous Codes of Conduct). Currently, it has the power to take NFA decisions in cases in which it is satisfied the Handbook has been breached, but considers the conduct does not amount to professional misconduct.

The PCC also has the power to impose administrative sanctions in the same circumstances. Unlike administrative sanctions, NFA decisions are disclosed for the purposes of certificates of good standing or in response to enquiries by Queens Counsel Appointments or the Judicial Appointments Commission in relation to applications for silk or judicial office.

In a consultation paper issued today, the BSB sets out its case that the terms of the new Handbook have made the use of the power to take NFA almost redundant and incompatible with the definition of professional misconduct.

The regulator proposes that removing the power will help tighten up the complaints regulations and remove any uncertainty in how the PCC's powers are applied.

For more information about NFA decisions or to respond to the consultation, click here. The consultation closes on Friday 10 April 2015.


Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t.