Background to supervision
In January 2014 the BSB Handbook came into force, along
with a new approach to supervision. The BSB is working hard to be
more evidence- and risk-based in all that we do. A new risk-based
approach to supervision is essential to these efforts.
In practice, this means that the BSB will be targeting its
resources at those chambers, individuals and areas of work that
require more supervisory attention. This is a key move towards
smarter regulation, saving time and money.
What's the benefit?
The process of supervision aims to foster a constructive
relationship between the BSB and those we regulate. Efficiently run
chambers, operating at low risk, are in everyone's best interest.
Supervision will ensure that the operations of chambers and
barristers run smoothly, resulting in less enforcement action and
better protection and promotion of customers' interests.
Supervision Return - An Overview
In April 2014, all chambers completed an Impact Audit Survey.
These surveys sought to measure the potential impact of a range of
risks should they materialise at a chambers. (For example,
inadequate complaints handling processes would have more
significant consequences at a chambers with a large and vulnerable
lay client base than at a chambers with a very small corporate
client base. Therefore, the potential impact is greater at the
chambers with the large lay client base.)
The Impact Audit Survey focussed on key areas such as: amount of
public access work, provision of pupillages and areas of work. It
shows only what the impact would be were things to actually go
wrong; it is not an indication as to how likely this is to happen
or how effectively a chambers is managing risk (this is the purpose
of the Supervision Return). Based on their answers to the Impact
Audit Survey, chambers have been grouped into three categories
according to impact: Low, Medium and High. The results of the
Impact Audit Survey will not be made publicly available.
What's happening now?
We are issuing Supervision Returns to Medium Impact
chambers in May 2015. High Impact chambers completed
their Supervision Returns in 2014.
Supervision Returns ask a series of open questions about
how chambers are administered and regulatory compliance is
achieved. Essentially, they are an opportunity for chambers to
explain how effectively potential risks are being managed, to help
the BSB determine the likelihood of these risks actually
materialising and to establish the level of supervision and support
that chambers might need. Chambers that are seen to be managing
risks effectively - categorised as Low Risk - will largely be left
to "get on with it" and receive relatively little supervision
attention. This will leave the BSB free to work with those chambers
that seem to be managing risk less effectively - categorised as
Medium or High Risk - to address these issues without needing to
resort to enforcement action.
The BSB has identified a number of key processes that it expects
competently administered chambers to be managing in order to ensure
compliance with the BSB Handbook. These cover the following
(i) Governance and administration of chambers
(ii) Provision of services to clients
(iii) Equality and Diversity
(v) Financial management
Further details can be found in the Supervision Strategy and Guidance
Members of the BSB's supervision team are available to provide
chambers with a briefing session on the new supervision scheme.
if you are interested.
Any queries about the Supervision Return process should be
directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, the Supervision Team can be contacted through the
Bar Standards Board reception at 020 7611 1444.