During this period, COVID-19 continued to have an impact on the courts, the profession and the public as well as the BSB’s people, who had to continue to work from home for much of the year. BSB employees worked hard to maintain, and even increase, their productivity but the loss of key people, and difficulty in recruiting new people, did affect our work in several areas, as detailed in the report. During the period, and despite this challenging backdrop, the BSB made considerable progress in several areas, including:
- Work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion at the Bar and to address bullying, discrimination and harassment remained a very high priority. The BSB's annual report on Diversity at the Bar showed that the profession became increasingly diverse in 2021, with the overall percentage of barristers from minoritized communities now matching the proportion of people from those communities in the working age population in England and Wales.
- Over the past year the BSB has been carefully analysing responses to our Regulatory Return questionnaire which was designed to assess risk within barristers’ practices and to improve their understanding of the levels of compliance with our rules. The BSB analysed the responses received, following up where necessary with individual practices, and determining appropriate regulatory policy action for the future depending on the trends shown in the returns. The Regulatory Return informed the three year strategy which the BSB published in April 2022.
The BSB is guided by its statutory Regulatory Objectives and its core regulatory work includes overseeing the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister; monitoring the standards of conduct of barristers and taking action when we believe the standards are not being met; and assuring the public that everyone the BSB authorises to practise is competent to do so. The report shows that:
- As of 31 March 2022, there were 17,170 registered regulated barristers in England and Wales, with a further 55,894 barristers without practising certificates who are also subject to BSB regulation.
- 22 barristers had a disciplinary finding against them following a Disciplinary Tribunal, with seven of them being suspended and eight of them disbarred.
- The BSB successfully processed 1,211 applications for waivers and exemptions from our rules over the year.
Commenting on the report, BSB Director-General, Mark Neale, said:
“2021 was another year presenting unprecedented challenges for the Bar and for the BSB but our people have worked hard throughout the year to stay on top of workflows, to take fair regulatory action where needed and to strive to achieve our regulatory objectives.”
You can read the full BSB Annual Report 2021-22 online. The BSB has also published a separate document alongside its Annual Report, the “Cost Transparency Metrics for 2021-22” which seeks to summarise and explain the regulator’s costs.
Notes to editors
About the Bar Standards Board
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