Independent Decision-Making Body Annual Report 2022/23

Legal & Enforcement Department
Regulatory Operations Department

Chair’s Introduction

1.1 This is the fourth Annual Report of the Independent Decision-Making Body (IDB). We recently said farewell to the previous IDB Chair Iain Christie, who stepped down as of 17 April 2023 and also the Vice-Chair Rohan Sivanandan who left on 31 May 2023. I would like to recognise and thank Iain and Rohan for their contributions to the work of the IDB over the period of their tenure. Their leadership and perspective have been valuable, and their insight and collaboration has shaped the work of the IDB going forward.

1.2 Having been an IDB member since its inception in October 2019, I was appointed as the new IDB Chair from 1 May 2023, and I am very much enjoying the role. The support I have received from IDB members and the Executive, has ensured a smooth transition and I look forward to working with them all over the coming year. We have successfully recruited a new Vice-Chair from our existing lay IDB membership pool and were delighted to welcome Kevin Gould to the role from 10 July 2023.

1.3 This report spans a period during which the IDB has faced some significant challenges. The cyber-attack to which the BSB was subject in April 2022 meant that the IDB ceased operating for a period of approximately 2 weeks while the Executive set up temporary arrangements to allow IDB meetings to continue. Owing to the experience of the global pandemic, which saw IDB operations move entirely online, the disruption caused was relatively short-lived. Nonetheless, this period was difficult for staff and non-Executives alike, and I am grateful to the IDB membership for their patience and to the Operational Support Team for getting us back up and running.

1.4 In November 2022, we began holding what have come to be known as ‘accelerated’ IDB meetings, to support a Board agreed action plan to improve performance. The aim of the arrangements was to provide capacity to clear a backlog of cases awaiting investigation and increase the throughput of investigations to meet the relevant key performance indicator for conclusion of investigations. The standard IDB meeting schedule could not accommodate the anticipated increase in the volume of cases requiring an IDB decision. Therefore, more frequent and all-day meetings were scheduled. These meetings considered more cases than previously and there were different arrangements in place for the drafting of decisions to accommodate this.

1.5 Due to the action plan, twice as many investigations were concluded in the second half of 2022/23 as in the first half (117 as opposed to 60). For the IDB this meant an increase in the overall number of enforcement panels, proportion of all-day meetings, number of cases referred and thus numbers of decisions taken. The impact of this increase in volume makes a comparison to previous years challenging, and this will impact the statistical analysis contained in next year’s (2023/24) report. Again, I am grateful to IDB members for their co-operation and the time they have given to assist with this important work. There is further information on the process and outcomes contained in the section which follows.

1.6 There was an overall reduction in the number of reviews of Authorisations decisions in 2022/23, compared to the previous year (from 22 to 17). This may be due partly to work within the team (following the judgment of the High Court in Eve v BSB, handed down on 22 July 2021, and referenced in last year’s report) to provide applicants with more detailed reasoning for the Executive decisions which applicants are then less likely to challenge. The most common type of Authorisations review remains applications for admission to the Bar as a Transferring Qualified Lawyer (10 out of the total of 17 IDB decisions for the year), and this is also the most common application type received and processed within the team. In general, there remains an even split between the number of Executive decisions that are affirmed or for which another decision is substituted, emphasising the rigorous assessment of these reviews by IDB panels.

Update on the work of the IDB


2.1 A recruitment process was undertaken in the Autumn of 2022 by the BSB’s Governance Team. In November 2022 the BSB formally appointed five new barrister members for a three-year term of office. The new members participated in a two-day induction programme in mid-November 2022, which was organised by the Operational Support Team, and delivered with members attending both in person and remotely.

2.2 The first day of the induction programme comprised a one-day session providing an outline of relevant BSB functions, delivered by the Executive, including an introduction to the assessment of incoming information, an overview of the enforcement process as well as an in-depth session on the BSB Handbook – which is key to the work of the IDB. The second day session, which was delivered by external trainers, covered equality, diversity, and inclusion training and how to write effective and reasoned decisions. The session also covered systems training and an overview of the Authorisations process, which was highly interactive, involving group discussion on a relevant case study.

2.3 We received positive feedback from the new barrister members on their induction and we are pleased to report that they were quickly fully engaged in their new duties, with two of the five members also now undertaking chairing responsibility at IDB panels. It is also clear that existing members have been very helpful to the new members and the implementation of a ‘buddy system’ (matching new members with existing members) has been well received and supported by the newly recruited members in their roles.

Accelerated IDB panel meetings

2.4 As mentioned in paragraphs 1.4 and 1.5 above, as part of the efforts by the Executive to address the build-up of cases and performance against KPIs, from November 2022 onwards, panels considered cases as part of an accelerated process. The aim was to increase the capacity of the IDB to consider cases and meet the increased throughput of cases being progressed by the Executive. More all-day meetings were scheduled, and meetings were also scheduled more frequently. Also, as part of this process the number of cases considered per meeting was increased, with reasons being drafted and agreed outside of the meeting to make time for more decisions to be taken.

2.5 The contribution of the IDB as part of the plan can be seen in the figures detailed in paragraphs 3.1 onwards below. The total number of meetings dealing with enforcement cases increased from 39 last year to 50 this year. Additionally, the number of cases considered increased from 68 to 95.

2.6 The plan continued into the first two quarters of 2023/24 and a further analysis of the impact will be included in next year’s IDB Annual Report. As part of a review of the plan the Executive will be considering whether any changes can be implemented on a permanent basis to increase efficiency in the IDB process.


2.7 As reported in last year’s Annual Report, 18 members’ terms of office expired on 31 August 2022. These were all members appointed at the inception of the IDB in 2019. Of those members, six took the decision not to renew their membership – four barrister and two lay members. We thank them for their service and are grateful to those who chose to renew, ensuring that valuable knowledge and experience was retained. This meant that as of September 2023, there were 29 members of the IDB (12 barristers and 17 lay members). As reported above (see paragraph 2.1), in November 2022 the BSB formally appointed five new barrister IDB members to ensure sufficient capacity was retained to schedule the necessary meetings.

2.8 A mid-term (18-month) appraisal took place for IDB members who were appointed from 1 September 2021 covering the period from date of appointment to 28 February 2023. Members are provided feedback and attendance information and complete a self-appraisal, which is then signed off by the Chair or Vice-Chair. The process concluded in early April, and I’m pleased to report that all those members opted to remain IDB members until the expiry of the current terms on 31 August 2024.


Performance Statistics

3.1 This section outlines the work carried out by the IDB covering the reporting period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

3.2 Number of panel meetings and cases considered:

Number of panel meetings

3.3 The table showing the number of IDB meetings covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 compared with the reporting period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.


Enforcement & Authorisations cases

3.4 The table showing the breakdown of cases/applications considered covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 compared with the reporting period of 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.


Decisions taken

3.5 Table showing the outcomes of enforcement meetings covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 compared with the reporting period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.


3.6 Remaining on the topic of decisions taken, the table below shows the percentage of cases referred by the IDB to a Disciplinary Tribunal that that resulted in at least one proved Charge. In 2022/23 20 cases that were originally referred to Disciplinary Tribunal by the IDB were heard at tribunal, of these, 17 (85%) were proved. The statistics shown in the table below give a clear indication of the quality of the IDB decision making.


3.7 The table showing the outcomes of Authorisations meetings covering the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 compared with the reporting period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.


*Determination by Consent

For Authorisations only

Reviews and appeals of IDB panel decisions

4.1 There was only one review of an IDB decision carried out by the Independent Reviewer in the reporting period. This was at the request of the barrister who was the subject of an investigation. The Reviewer recommended that the decision to refer to a disciplinary tribunal be upheld. This was a decrease from last year, when five cases were reviewed.

4.2 In terms of appeals against administrative sanctions imposed by the IDB, there were two appeals with one being successful. In this appeal, the appeal panel disagreed with the IDP that the evidence established a breach of the Handbook for some of the allegations. In respect of the other allegations which were subject to the same appeal they found sufficient evidence of a breach but that the risk was sufficiently low that an administrative sanction was not appropriate.

4.3 There were no judicial reviews arising from decisions of the IDB in the reporting period.

4.4 There are currently no ongoing reviews of IDB decisions taken in the fiscal years 2021/22 and 2022/23.

IDB Quarterly training

5.1 The IDB has continued to be provided with quarterly training sessions, attendance at which remains high and attests to the commitment of the members. Members have commented positively on the training received and the benefits of being able to attend in person so they can meet their colleagues outside of meetings and build relationships. During the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023 training took place through a combination of online Teams sessions and in person attendance. Sessions were held in June, September and December 2022 and March 2023.

5.2 The content of quarterly sessions is based on feedback from IDB members and issues identified by the Executive then finalised in collaboration with the Chair and Vice-Chair.

5.3 Quarter one’s session was facilitated by external training consultants and was solely focused on training IDB members on the role of the Chair in IDB panels to equip them with the skills and confidence to perform this function. The session featured a number of case studies which were the subject of interactive role play(s).

5.4 The quarter two session included discussion around the temporary arrangements to meet key performance indicators (as detailed above in paragraph 1.4), and guidance on dealing with cases involving criminal findings. The session concluded with training on how to apply equality and diversity principles and featured an interactive element allowing the members to discuss relevant case studies and participate in example exercises.

5.5 Quarter three’s session commenced with a welcome to the five newly recruited Barrister members appointed in November 2022. The session then proceeded with training on considerations of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in IDB decision making and concluded with an update on the accelerated investigations process.

5.6 The final training session of the year featured a recap of the PSED training held in the previous quarter, with a focus on case studies and the application of the duty, together with guidance on how to effectively prepare for IDB meetings.

Feedback from IDB members

6.1 Within 24 hours of a panel meeting occurring, members are sent a link to an online feedback form in which they can comment on the performance of other members who attended the meeting (including the Chair) and reflect on their own performance. They are also asked for general feedback on other matters relating to meeting processes and the operation of panels. This has included comments on the value of input from the duty manager in assisting panel members to understand their options on sanctions, identification of topics that the panel members would like to receive training on to assist them in their role, and the importance of having a designated Chair to assist the panel in navigating the evidence to enable meetings to run on time and achieve a consensus on decisions.

6.2 Overall, the feedback indicates that the Panel members feel they work as a team, are able to call upon specific panel members’ expertise where required, and that meetings are conducted in an inclusive way enabling all to participate and express their opinions equally.

6.3 For this year’s report we have sought feedback from a range of IDB members covering both existing arrangements and the move to accelerated meetings, which is included below.

6.4 IDB Lay member – Appointed 1 September 2019 “The last year on the IDB has seen a number of changes as the role of the panel develops and panel members have welcomed and embraced the changes. The move to dealing with more cases in meetings, and approving decisions by document sharing following the meeting has been particularly productive. These changes have worked well as a result of panel members being thoroughly prepared before meetings and having a detailed knowledge of the cases in advance. Longer serving panel members have particularly welcomed the arrival of newer IDB members, both barrister and lay members and the variety of backgrounds and expertise has led to some interesting and open discussions. The quarterly training sessions continue to be excellent and the return to in person training is particularly welcome”.

6.5 IDB Lay member – Appointed 1 September 2021 “As a IDB panel member I have experienced both the period before the accelerated process and during it. The period 'before' saw us consider less cases and the reviewing of the decision sheets was undertaken by email, which was not very efficient…. The 'accelerated process' developed more teamwork as the Chair had to draft the decision sheet and this was then shared via SharePoint. Not having a 'drafter' meant there was more ownership by the Panel and more team working - speaking for myself I have found my fellow panel members to be extremely supportive in developing the decision sheets. Considering more cases has been a challenge and the ability for panel members to commit to the finalising of the decision sheets after the panel day; alongside their 'day job' has been at times challenging, whereas the 'old process' saw the work completed the same day….I think all members have adapted to the changes including the IT changes incredibly quickly and I am sure that everyone will fully embrace any future changes”.

6.6 IDB Barrister member – Appointed 1 November 2022 “The training, mentor scheme and BTAS observations have been instrumental to me in my role. The training has been incredibly helpful to help me find my feet and be proactive both within and outside of meetings. The mentor scheme has also been invaluable at ensuring that I have someone to turn to if I need assistance on matters both trivial and complex”.

Conclusions and Chair's comments on overall performance

7.1 The global pandemic and the cyber-attack have resulted, as they have for many organisations, in a permanent shift in working practices for the IDB. The majority of IDB meetings continue to take place online, allowing greater flexibility in scheduling and optimising attendance opportunities for members, particularly those who are not London-based or have caring responsibilities. For quarterly training however, we have begun to return to the more usual ‘hybrid’ way of working (some in person attendance, some remote). Members, particularly those who are relatively newly appointed, have commented positively on these arrangements because they facilitate dialogue and build constructive working relationships. We intend to continue with these arrangements over the course of 2023-24, with the aim of moving to at least one session a year fully in-person.

7.2 In conclusion, I would like to thank former and current members of the IDB and the Executive for working collaboratively together in sometimes challenging circumstances over this reporting period to ensure that the IDB has operated successfully.

Tim Grey

Chair of the Independent Decision-Making Body

October 2023

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