17 October 2018

Understanding Your Impact Assessment Rating

Factoring in impact is an important part of the BSB's risk-based approach. Taking impact into account allows the BSB to focus on chambers where the consequences of significant risks materialising are likely to be the most severe.

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 the type of work undertaken, the amount of public access work and the provision of pupillages. It shows only what the impact would be were things to actually go wrong and is not an indication as to how likely this is to happen or how effectively a chambers is managing risk; this was assessed separately through the supervision return process.

There is very little that a chambers can do to reduce their impact rating as it will be inherent to their activities and profile. It is important to note that a chambers can be High Impact, but still be considered Low Risk, and so receive a low level of supervision, if it can demonstrate that it is managing risks effectively.

Factors that increase impact

Based on their answers to the Impact Audit Survey, chambers have been grouped into three categories according to impact: Low, Medium and High.

These ratings were based on an assessment of responses to the Impact Audit Survey. The following factors will lead to a higher impact rating:

 (a)  Undertaking high impact types of work

 The highest impact types of work are: 

  • Crime
  • Family
  • Immigration

This is because these types of work generate the highest proportion of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman.

In addition, the following areas of work also generate a high volume of complaints but increase impact to a lesser extent: 

  • Property
  • Employment
  • Personal injury 

(b)  Undertaking a high volume of cases

At chambers who handle a large volume of cases there are more clients involved, which could potentially magnify any risks that did materialise.

For example, the impact of a failure to manage confidential information appropriately would be greater at a chambers that handles a large volume of cases where more clients could be affected by the failure.

 (c)  Undertaking Public Access work

For Public Access work lay clients do not have the additional protection of a solicitor or other legal professional. Therefore additional safeguards need to be in place in chambers to manage this potential impact.

 (d)  Taking pupils

Chambers that take pupils are subject to additional risks because they are subject to a number of additional regulatory requirements and need to have the appropriate procedures and controls in place.

 (e)  Undertaking work under the Money Laundering Regulations or using Barco or a third party escrow account 

Chambers undertaking work that falls within the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations, or those that use escrow accounts, must have additional procedures and controls in place to manage the associated risks. The impact of a control failure could be significant if, for example, it resulted in inadvertently facil