22 June 2018

Regulatory Assurance

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.

Key processes
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 areas:

(i) Governance and administration of chambers
(ii) Provision of services to clients
(iii) Equality and Diversity
(iv) Pupillage
(v) Financial management

Further details can be found in the Supervision Strategy and Guidance document.

Briefing Sessions
Members of the BSB's supervision team are available to provide chambers with a briefing session on the new supervision scheme. Email bsbcontactus@barstandardsboard.org.uk if you are interested.

Any queries about the Supervision Return process should be directed to supervision@barstandardsboard.org.uk. Alternatively, the Supervision Team can be contacted through the Bar Standards Board reception at 020 7611 1444.