The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its latest annual report summarising its activities during the 2019-20 business year.
The report covers the first year of the regulator’s Strategic Plan for 2019-22 which ended in March 2020. This meant that as the year came to an end, the Bar, along with the rest of the country, was facing the challenge of the national lockdown to combat COVID-19. The BSB is very aware of the challenges currently facing the profession it regulates and has amended its plans for 2020-21 accordingly, whilst at the same time continuing its work to protect the public interest and to improve access to justice.
2019-20 was the year in which several of the BSB’s long-term policy development projects were realised. These included introducing:
- more accessible, affordable and flexible routes to qualify as a barrister with the new Bar Qualification Rules which came into force in April 2019;
- more transparency about the services provided by barristers with the new Bar Transparency Rules which came into force in July 2019 and which are designed to improve the information available to the public before they engage the services of a barrister; and
- more efficient regulatory decision-making with the new Enforcement Decision Regulations which came into force in October 2019 designed to modernise the BSB’s regulatory operations by streamlining and improving the way that it assesses and handles reports about those whom it regulates.
The report also describes the day-to-day tasks undertaken by the BSB when regulating barristers and specialised legal businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. This work includes overseeing the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, monitoring the standards of conduct of barristers, and assuring the public that everyone we authorise to practise is competent to do so. To demonstrate these aspects of the BSB’s work, the report shows that:
- as of 31 March 2020, there were 16,915 registered barristers in England and Wales as well as 130 specialised legal services businesses regulated by the BSB;
- eight training organisations were authorised by the BSB during 2019-20 to deliver the new vocational component of Bar training (a ninth was authorised earlier this month); and
- during 2019-20, 32 barristers had a disciplinary finding against them of whom 15 were suspended and 10 were disbarred. (Further information about the regulator’s enforcement work during the year will be made available in a separate report to be published in the autumn.)
BSB Director-General, Mark Neale, said: “I joined the Bar Standards Board in February 2020 so much of this report describes our work under my excellent predecessor, Dr Vanessa Davies. We made real progress during 2019-20 and achieved success in many key areas of our regulation, including introducing a new system by which new barristers train and qualify, and new transparency rules for the Bar. Our focus now is to ensure that our work helps the profession to recover from the effects of the health emergency for the benefit of everyone who relies on the Bar.”
Read the full BSB Annual Report 2019-20 online.
The BSB has also published a separate document alongside its Annual Report, the “Cost Transparency Metrics for 2019-20” which seeks to summarise and explain the regulator’s costs.
Notes to editors
About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t
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