16 December 2018

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Sir Andrew Burns KCMG

As we approach the end of the year, we have been thinking hard about our future governance. 

Last month we published details of the new structure, which we plan to put in place over the coming months. We believe that these changes, which will more clearly distinguish between policy development and decision-making in individual cases, will strengthen public confidence in our independence and our ability to regulate the profession to a consistently high standard.

Many decisions currently reserved at Committee level will be devolved to our knowledgeable and professional staff. This should speed up case work and policy development and increase our adaptability and ability to respond to new regulatory demands. The new arrangements are aimed at ensuring that we are a robust, independent, dependable and optimally-resourced organisation with a clear separation between policy and implementation.

The governance structure is going to look quite different when the changes are completed in eighteen months' time or so. Eventually only two permanent committees will remain: one focusing on finance and performance and one focusing on risk and assurance. But we shall be setting up new arrangements for drawing on expert legal and lay advice. You can read more about our governance changes on our website.

At our away day on 17 December my fellow Board members and I will be discussing the implications for the Board itself and how we might best equip ourselves for the future. Members of the Legal Services Consumer Panel are coming for part of the day to help us think harder about the consumers of the legal services which barristers provide and their perspective. This will lead into discussions about our Strategic Plan for 2016-19.

Lastly, I wish to express our warmest thanks to Patricia Robertson QC, who steps down as our Vice Chair at the end of this month. She has served six years on the Bar Standards Board and we are all hugely indebted to her for the dedication, wide experience and intellectual rigour she has brought to our deliberations. I also extend my thanks to Sam Stein QC who leaves us at the same time. Sam has brought important expertise in publicly funded criminal practice to the Board and has over the last six years helped develop many aspects of our supervision activity.

These changes mean we shall also be welcoming new members to the Board. Judith Farbey QC joins in January as Sam's replacement.  We are in the process of recruiting a new Vice Chair. We invited a strong short-list for interview and will be announcing Patricia's successor later this month.