6 Jun 2019

6 June 2019

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is today calling for evidence to help it scope a planned review of the BSB Handbook - the document which includes the Code of Conduct for barristers and the rules with which they must comply.

This follows the regulator's announcement within its Strategic Plan for 2019-22 that it  would be reviewing its Handbook to make sure that it remains fit for purpose, relevant and accessible given that it has been in force in its current form for several years.

This Call for Evidence asks respondents to share their experience of using the Handbook with the BSB. It seeks views on matters such as: 

  • what the review should, and should not, cover - including matters of substance and/or structure;
  • what difficulties do people have engaging with the current Handbook; and
  • what positive aspects of the Handbook should be retained.

The regulator plans to consider the evidence it receives before deciding the scope of its review in early 2020.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod, said:

"We do not envisage our review of the BSB Handbook leading to any fundamental changes to the core ethical and professional duties expected of all barristers. It is, however, a chance for people to tell us what they think of the current Handbook and to help us consider the case for making any changes."

The deadline for responses to this Call for Evidence isMonday 28 October2019.

Anyone wishing to contribute, or to request further information, should please email  ProfessionalStandards@barstandardsboard.org.uk.


Notes to editors

  1. The current (4th) edition of the Handbook[1] contains most of the BSB's regulations and guidance in one place and is approximately 250 pages long.  Approximately 90 pages concern barristers' ethical duties and permitted scope of practice, 80 pages concern enforcement, 35 pages cover qualification and authorisation, and a similar number are used for the introduction and definitions.
  1. With regard to barristers' ethical duties, the Core Duties in the Handbook define the core elements of professional conduct, and compliance with them is mandatory. The rules are intended to supplement the Core Duties where a Core Duty alone is considered insufficient to address the perceived risk. (The outcomes, while not mandatory, put the rules into context and help barristers to determine how they should act if a specific situation is not covered by the rules.)  Our general approach has been to express all requirements that are genuinely mandatory as rules, and provide further information, or examples of behaviour that would breach rules, in guidance.

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

Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or emailpress@barstandardsboard.org.uk.


The first edition of this Handbook came into force in January 2014.  The motivation behind it is described here: https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/resources/new-bsb-handbook-to-give-barristers-more-freedom-and-flexibility.html

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