The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published the annual report of the Independent Decision-making Body (IDB) for the year ending 31 March 2021.
The IDB was established in October 2019 as part of the BSB’s modernisation of its regulatory decision-making, replacing the Professional Conduct Committee and the Authorisations Review Panel. It is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the BSB where independent input is required. The remit of the IDB includes enforcement decisions in relation to breaches of the BSB Handbook and considering applications for review of decisions taken on authorisations such as the issue, amendment or revocation of a practising certificate or applications for waivers in relation to compliance with the BSB Handbook.
This is the first full annual report as the last report covered the period from 15 October 2019 (when the IDB was established) to 31 March 2020 to allow future reports to align with the BSB’s standard reporting year. The report covers the period when the impacts of the pandemic and remote working were most felt.
Although they do not bear direct comparison because of the different length of reporting period, on a pro rata basis the numbers of cases considered by the IDB has more than doubled in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20 partly due to an increase in overall caseload and partly due to more regular scheduling of panel meetings.
Key facts from the report include:
- in 2020-21, 73 enforcement cases and 32 authorisation cases were considered by the IDB;
- of the enforcement cases, 37 were referred to disciplinary action, ten had administrative sanctions imposed, 22 saw allegations dismissed, one was referred to Supervision, and three required further enquiries;
- of the authorisations cases, 27 culminated in previous decisions being upheld and five resulted in decisions of the BSB Executive being overturned;
- 10 of the authorisations’ cases related to admission to the Bar as qualified foreign lawyers and four related to reductions in the duration of pupillage. The rest concerned a wide range of authorisation decisions including those relating to waivers and exemptions;
- three authorisations’ decisions made by the IDB in 2020-21 were appealed, of which one was successful and the other two are awaiting a decision; and
- no decisions made by the IDB in 2020-21 to impose administrative sanctions on barristers were appealed.
Commenting on the report, BSB Director General, Mark Neale, said:
“We are pleased to publish the first full annual report of the Independent Decision-making Body. The IDB provides an essential role in the way reports about potential breaches of the BSB Handbook by barristers are considered after they have been assessed and investigated by our executive team. We are very grateful to everyone who serves on the IDB for this and the equally important work they undertake in reviewing authorisations’ decisions.”
Chair of the IDB, Iain Christie, said:
“I would like to thank everyone who sat on an IDB panel during 2020-21. The challenges caused by the pandemic and remote working were significant. I hope this Annual Report shows how we rose to the challenges despite only having existed as a Body for six months when the pandemic first struck.”
You can read the IDB Report 2020-21 on the BSB website.
The Bar Standards Board has also today published its Regulatory Decisions Report 2020-21, which provides an overview of decisions taken by the BSB in relation to its regulatory operations, and legal and enforcement work in the year to 31 March 2021. You can read about that report here.
Notes to editors
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