6 Oct 2022

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) is today publishing two important documents which address culture at the Bar.

The first is a Report on Addressing Bullying and Harassment at the Bar. Through its Addressing Bullying and Harassment at the Bar project, launched in 2019, and the 2020 report on Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment at the Bar, the BSB has sought to reduce the risks of bullying and harassment at the Bar, to ensure that effective systems are in place in chambers to handle reports of bullying and harassment, and to encourage the profession to tackle this issue effectively. After engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, the BSB is now seeking to clarify what role chambers should play in promoting culture change and addressing bullying and harassment, which behaviours should be reported to the BSB, what reporting routes are available, and how the BSB deals with such reports. The BSB hopes to increase the number of reports being made, given the current problem of underreporting, and to demonstrate that such behaviours are not tolerated.

In the regulator’s Equality Strategy, the BSB recognises that there is a continuing need to improve the culture at the Bar and to ensure a supportive environment for all barristers and pupils. This is necessary to achieve the objective of encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective profession. The BSB’s Commitment to Wellbeing Statement being published today, acknowledges that the wellbeing of barristers is important if they are to meet their own duties and, accordingly, that wellbeing is essential to the achievement of the BSB’s broader regulatory objectives. The commitments detailed in the Statement will inform and guide the implementation of a range of activities under the Equality Strategy, including, for example, updating the BSB’s Equality Rules, setting good practice expectations of chambers, and the promotion of equality and inclusion. The full Statement is available to read here.

The BSB’s Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod said that:

“Culture change at the Bar is necessary to address the issues of bullying, discrimination and harassment. This type of behaviour has no place in a modern, inclusive Bar and the BSB will work with the profession to ensure that we make progress in combatting it. People who are subject to bullying, discrimination and harassment, or who are dealing with poor mental or physical health or workload issues, should be better supported and the BSB wants to play its part in doing that, in collaboration with others.”

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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